Burning of Quran in Norway Exposes Threat of Hate Speech, Tests Limits of Free Speech

Published November 26th, 2019 - 10:44 GMT
Screenshot of a video showing a young man kicking a person who tries to burn the Holy Quran during an anti-Islam rally in Norway
Screenshot of a video showing a young man kicking a person who tries to burn the Holy Quran during an anti-Islam rally in Norway

The leader of the Norwegian anti-Islamist organization Stop the Islamization of Norway (SION) publicly burned a Quran before being stopped by a Syrian refugee. The incident raised questions about freedom of speech and hate speech.

The incident occurred during an anti-islamization rally. Hundreds attended although most of them were counter-protesters. The situation was resolved by police officers who stopped the conflict from escalating.

The demonstration took place despite the fact that police had not authorized it, but local authorities agreed to host the event. After the incident, it was reported that the police arrested both the Syrian refugee and the anti-Islamic activist.

The Syrian refugee who stopped the man from burning the Quran was later identified as Ilyas, a Syrian refugee who owns a restaurant in Norway. The man became a hero to the Muslim community around the world, who celebrated his bravery in stopping the incident from escalating. 

On the other hand, others argued that burning the Quran should be considered freedom of speech, and that Norway allows this freedom. 

The video came as a shock to the Muslim community promoting some Muslim nations to speak out.

The Muslim-majority country of Pakistan summoned the Norwegian ambassador to convey concern over the incident and condemned the incident. 

A statement from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry stated, "such actions could not be justified in the name of freedom of expression."


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