Sheikh Youssef Qarout made the remarks in a webinar titled “Strategy of Modern Jahiliyyah to Counter Liberating Rationality of Monotheism”, which was held Wednesday by the International Quran News Agency (IQNA) in the wake of recent desecration of the Quran in few European countries.
He began his address by referring to verse 53 of Surah Al-Isra of the Holy Quran, “(Muhammad), tell My servants to say what is best. Satan sows dissension among them; he is the sworn enemy of human beings.”
He said although Muslims’ sentiments have been hurt and they feel enraged because of the acts of desecration in Europe, they will exercise restraint and face the issue rationally and peacefully.
The cleric underlined that respect for the religious sanctities and symbols of all faiths is an unchanging stance of Islam and Muslims. “We are opposed to burning or desecrating any divine book and underscore that it is illegal and unethical.”
He said exploiting the principle of freedom of expression has caused the repetition of the crime of Quran burning in Sweden, which drew widespread reaction in Sweden and elsewhere in the world.
“We should not that most of the Swedish people symphonize with Muslims on the issue of desecration of their sanctities and never approve of the conduct of this extremist (Rasmus Paludan). This has been demonstrated by the reaction of the Swedish people to the recent incidents.”
He added that this opposition to Pauldan’s approach is also manifested in the fact that he gained only 156 votes in Sweden’s recent elections.
According to Sheikh Qarout, the Swedish police ignored all the possible repercussions of allowing this to happen under the pretext that the country’s laws guarantee freedom of expression.
“We should ask whether what the Swedish police do is legal and impartial or is biased and based on double standards, especially when it comes to burning sacred texts.”
He referred to a case in 1997 in which a teenager was tried and fined for brandishing a distorted flag of Sweden in celebrations marking the country’s national day.
The cleric noted that the teenager was tired based on a law that bans acting in a way that enrages the public.
There is also a law in Sweden according to which threatening or hurting the feelings of people based on their race, color or faith is a crime, he stated.
Therefore, Sheikh Qarout went on to say, burning the Quran in public is a crime that requires punishment based on Swedish law, because it is a hate crime and provocation against Muslims.
“Thus, the Swedish police have no legal grounds for allowing such an act (of desecration),” he concluded.