“A Danish man who posed a video of himself setting fire to the Quran on Facebook has been charged with blasphemy in the first such prosecution for 46 years.
The 42-year-old suspect put the clip, entitled `Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns` to a group called YES TO FREEDOM – NO TO ISLAM in December 2015.
Jan Reckendorff, from the public prosecutor`s office in Viborg, said: It is the prosecution`s view that circumstances involving the burning of holy books such as the Bible and the Quran can in some cases be a violation of the blasphemy clause, which covers public scorn or mockery of religion.”
If an individual was charged with blasphemy by a Western government for setting a Bible on fire the backlash would be intense and immediate. The hashtags #burnthefuckingbible and #separationofchurchandstate would be trending on Twitter, and there would be mass protests in every major Western city.
That said, burning the Koran is an incendiary act (pun intended) that only serves to sow discord and violence. Religion shouldn`t be exempt from criticism and ridicule, but burning the Koran doesn`t bring to light the excesses of Islam, it only exposes the stupidity of the person burning the holy book.
The Koran is treated with reverence by Muslims and any act of desecration of the holy book is perceived as a grave insult worthy of the death penalty. In a democratic country non-Muslims shouldn`t be bound by the prohibitions of Islam. I would never burn a copy of the Koran as a protest against the Neanderthal mindset of Islam, but if I performed such a foolish act it would be constitutionally-protected free speech.
I have written dozens of articles criticizing the abhorrent treatment of women and religious minorities in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the written word is the best way to fight intolerance and religious fanaticism.
By the way, I have also written dozes of articles criticizing the homophobia and sexism of evangelicals, although I`m not drawing a moral equivalency between the two major religions. When Islam is criticized or mocked too many Muslims react violently, whereas when Catholics or evangelicals are attacked, they write a letter to the editor or post a rebuttal on their blogs.
In a secular democracy whenever we hear hate speech citizens must condemn it in no uncertain terms, but it`s anathema for the government to punish free speech. Denmark is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, not a theocracy, for God`s sake.
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