Burning Qurans in a Time of Crisis

Notice how Islam’s Holy book gets desecrated whenever the West is undergoing a crisis and is desperate to either ignite an anti-Muslim public frenzy or distract from its own failures, writes Ramzy Baroud.

Sept. 2, 2019: Danish anti-Islam politician Rasmus Paludan burning a Quran at a rally in Copenhagen under heavy police protection. (FunkMonk, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) 

By Ramzy Baroud
MintPress News

Desecrating, then burning the Holy Quran in Sweden has, once again, raised a political storm of condemnation but also of justification, if not outright approval [after a protester, with police permission, burned Islam’s holy book outside a Stockholm mosque last month.]

Such acts are protected by law, top Swedish and EU officials have declared. 

But why are the rights of those who oppose Western agendas, colonialism, imperialism, Zionism and military interventions not equally protected by law?

The Palestine boycott movement, BDS, for example, is constantly fighting in Western societies and institutions for the right to use certain language or merely challenge, though non-violently, Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Iranian media offices were shut down in some Western countries, and various Western-operated satellites removed Iranian Press TV, Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV and other anti-Israel occupation media outlets from their line-ups.

Thousands of Palestinian activists have been banned or censored on Western social media platforms for daring to criticize Israeli war crimes in Palestine. The writer of this article is one of many others.

As soon as the Russia-Ukraine war began, Western governments were asked to completely block Russia Today and other Russian media channels from operating in Western capitals, leading to the shutting down of offices, and social media channels, removal from YouTube, Google and other search engines and so on.

In February 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said: “We will ban the Kremlin’s media machine in the EU.”

Von der Leyen presenting EU membership questionnaire to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, April 8, 2022. (President.gov.ua, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

For some odd reason, all this censorship is, somehow, morally and legally defensible from the viewpoint of the West.

But why is the right to insult Muslims so cherished, so sacred in the view of Western governments and laws? And why burn the Quran now?

It is “sacred’ simply because Islamophobia exists at the highest levels of governments throughout the West.

Western lawmakers and politicians may argue that the law protects the rights of individuals to burn the Quran, but deep down – sometimes right on the surface — Europe’s ruling elites share the view of those who burn the Quran or desecrate Islamic symbols. Such hate is often blamed on the far right by many of us, but that is only part of the story.

Expectedly, once again, Muslims react by protesting en masse, storming Western embassies and burning Western countries’ flags. And when this happens, the very Western political and intellectual circles that permitted or encouraged hate speech in the first place take to the stage, juxtaposing, with unmistakable triumph, the West’s democracy and tolerance with Islam’s intolerance and authoritarianism.

How about the timing?

Notice how the Quran is often burned, Islam insulted, or Islamic symbols desecrated whenever the West is undergoing a crisis and is desperate to either ignite an anti-Muslim public frenzy or distract from its own failures.

This has happened numerous times throughout history, ancient and modern.

In the past, whenever Christendom descended into chaos, civil wars and revolutions, European kings, with the support of the Church, would mount one crusade after another in the name of “freeing the captive Holy Land from the hordes of the heathens and the Mohammedans.”

Stockholm Mosque. (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

More recently, when the U.S. invaded Iraq or wanted to distract from its splendid failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else in the Muslim world, Western provocateurs would rush to the streets to burn the Quran or would insult and ridicule Prophet Mohammed in their newspapers and magazines.

But what crisis is the West now trying to distract from? Ukraine and the global paradigm shift underway.

NATO is failing to push back or even weaken Russia. The much-touted Ukrainian counter-offensive, featuring the most modern weapons the West has to offer, is a flop at best, a complete disaster at worst.

Moreover, the cracks of division between NATO and Western countries are bigger than ever and are widening by the day.

The Wagner mutiny in Rostov, which ignited hope among Western governments and elites that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin can be taken down from within, has completely failed. In fact, it has backfired as the mercenary group has been exiled to Belarus and is now stationed at NATO’s own doorsteps.

Worse, Arabs, Muslims, and countries from across the Global South are moving even closer to Moscow and Beijing. Algeria has recently signed a major cooperation agreement with Russia – thus strengthening their influence over the gas markets – and a host of nations are lining up to join BRICS.

In the face of this strategic failure and the complete moral, political and military collapse of the West, a supposed lunatic appears before a mosque in Stockholm with the made-up altruistic mission of burning the Holy Book of 1.8 billion Muslims. A Western media fanfare immediately follows.

But this individual, and others like him, have little interest in defending freedom of speech. His is a diversionary strategy, and, at some level, the actual orchestrators are not lunatics, but clever men, with high-paying jobs and political agendas.

Indeed, these blasphemous acts are part and parcel of a larger Western agenda, the gist of which is that the West is democratic, tolerant, and essentially good, and the rest are undemocratic, barbaric and essentially wicked.

This false maxim is just another take on the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell when he said last November that “Europe is a garden,” while “most of the rest of the world is a jungle.”

The fact that Russia has recently passed laws criminalizing the burning of the Quran indicates that Moscow, like others, also understands that the issue is purely political — because it is.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of “The Palestine Chronicle.” He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out. His other books include My Father was a Freedom Fighter and The Last Earth. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

This article is from MPN.news, an award winning investigative newsroom.  Sign up for their newsletter

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.



17 comments for “Burning Qurans in a Time of Crisis

  1. jamie
    July 14, 2023 at 18:11

    The burning of the Quran can be interpreted in different ways; westerners strongly believe in freedom of expression, it has become their mantra, their reason to exist, the only thing that gives the western culture any value, now that democracy has been exposed to be a fraud, another way for the few to coerce the masses, stick or carrots does not matter when the purpose it is to benefit the few at the expenses of the many.
    But what is freedom without respect? what is love without respect? Burning the Quran in a public place, it is freedom, freedom to hate, freedom to be xenophobic, freedom to discriminate, to demonize an entire culture, etc. Burning the Quran might symbolize much more than burning a book, but burning an entire culture and society.
    Freedom for the west it is another way to justify “evil”, justify our failures as human beings, and the fact that the Swedish laws allows that in the name of freedom it tells a lot about a country once reputed as one the most “developed”; it tells a lot about the “old” Europe
    Chaos is a powerful thing, you want to truly know a person, a social system, a culture? Chaos is the answer. That burning of the Quran it is done purposely during times of crisis to either ignite an anti-Muslim public frenzy or distract from its own failures? Perhaps yes, but also during time of crisis/chaos the true nature of things come to light.
    The western leadership should not fear the Russians, the Chinese, the Muslims…. they should fear their own people because many are awakening and are growing tired…

  2. Eddie S
    July 14, 2023 at 16:28

    And now, for parity’s sake…. ?


  3. Vera Gottlieb
    July 14, 2023 at 12:25

    Asking for another Charlie Hebdo incidence???

    • Valerie
      July 14, 2023 at 18:34

      They were particularly obscene cartoons. It’s one thing to make fun of something, but that was really out of order.

  4. John
    July 14, 2023 at 09:44

    Divide and conquer is the oldest strategy used by those who would rule, when they are loosing control

  5. mgr
    July 14, 2023 at 08:08

    In a larger context, the conflict in Ukraine is also exposing the bigotry and racism that underpinned the first Cold War and is now raging today. Western countries certainly have a roledex of scapegoats including Muslims, Palestinians, Russians, etc. to draw upon when Western self-serving and exceptionalist foolishness periodically catches up with them and they need to distract. No doubt, we can expect a bumper crop of mushrooms.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    July 14, 2023 at 05:57

    Religion: the root of all evils.

    • JonnyJames
      July 14, 2023 at 14:30

      I don’t agree: organized religion is political. Politics is ruled by power, and power is based on BigMoney and the use of violence.

    • Valerie
      July 14, 2023 at 18:28

      “Christianity remains to this day the greatest misfortune of humanity.”
      ? Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ

      That statement could be applied to all religions i believe, with perhaps the exception of Buddhism.

      • Elial
        July 16, 2023 at 13:06

        The Buddhists are slaughtering the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

        It’s not any religion in particular but how a particular set of people behave in that religion.

  7. Jörgen Hassler
    July 14, 2023 at 01:49

    While I generally agree with Dr. Ramzy Baroud on the legal technicalities.

    1 The police does not grant permission for book burning, they grant the right to hold a public assembly and what they assess beforehand is whether or not there is a risk of violence or other disturbances.

    2 Thus it’s not a question of freedom of expression, because legally in Sweden burning a book is not an expression, but a question of freedom of assembly.

    3 There is no law against blasphemy in Sweden, so in that sense the burning of any holy text is perfectly legal.

    4 However there is a law against hate crime. It should cover burning of the Quran outside a Mosque. But so far the public prosecutor has not opened investigation after the burnings. The reason for that is as Baroud says that under a thin veneer of tolerance Swedish officialdom is deeply anti muslim.

    But we can have some hope for the general population in my country. Two weeks after the burning about 4000 people showed up in the same place to show solidarity with our muslim population.

  8. CaseyG
    July 13, 2023 at 23:59

    I once read of a man named Hillel, who lived at the time of the Jesus person, but in the area now known as Turkey. I don’t put too much hope in religions, but I did like what this man named Hillel said:

    ” Do unto others: everything else is commentary. “

  9. Valerie
    July 13, 2023 at 17:47

    “But why is the right to insult Muslims so cherished, so sacred in the view of Western governments and laws? And why burn the Quran now?”

    But the right to criticize Israel is an offence:

    “UN urged to reject antisemitism definition over ‘misuse’ to shield Israel”

    “More than 100 Israeli and international civil society groups warn IHRA definition could curb work of UN bodies”

    Chris McGreal in New York

    Mon 24 Apr 2023 Guardian

    I was somewhat astounded with the caption underneath the photo of Von der Leyen and Zelenski, to the extent that i researched and discovered that yes, there is a questionnaire and it’s really quite simple:

    Who can apply for the EU membership?
    The Treaty on the European Union states that any European state may apply
    for membership if it respects the democratic values of the EU and is
    committed to promoting them.
    What are the conditions to join the EU?
    The EU assesses the readiness of applicant countries according to three
    accession criteria defined at the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 and
    hence referred to as ‘Copenhagen criteria’.
    • Political criteria: stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law,
    human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
    • Economic criteria: a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope
    with competition and market forces in the EU;
    • EU acquis criteria: the ability to take on and implement effectively the
    obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political,
    economic and monetary union.
    At the same time, as defined by the 1995 Madrid European Council, applicant
    countries are expected to develop their administrative structures and the EU
    needs to be able to integrate new members.

    So according to all that, the whole of the EU should be disqualified and Ukraine doesn’t stand a chance.

    • norah
      July 14, 2023 at 08:08

      You hit the nail on the head in your first 3 lines. Zionists control the USA and Israel, and also to a slightly lesser extent, the entire Anglosphere. Until, if ever, those declining countries can shake off the Zionist influence AND the Globalist control of the same governments, nothing will change except that ‘ They ‘ will get even more intrenched and powerful. Sadly for us, the 99%, Zionism and Globalism have the same mother.

    • JonnyJames
      July 14, 2023 at 14:31

      Well put Valerie!

  10. Greg Grant
    July 13, 2023 at 15:51

    I read the Koran recently cover-to-cover and it is definitely an irrational backwards, intollerant, fear-mongering document. But basically all of the irrational, backwards, intollerant fear-mongering in the Koran is borrowed directly from the Christian bible. The Koran is just a powerful defense the judeo-christian religion. Mohammad praises nobody higher than Abraham. It’s basically just a 200 page whine asking how anybody could be so stupid as to not believe in Abraham. And for those who don’t they’re going to burn in hell for eternity. Muslims don’t believe Jesus was the messiah, but they believe he was a saint of some sort. So really the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religoins have far far more in common than they have differences. Personally I’d like to see all three of those books burned as one blanket statement against the entire pursuit.

    • Valerie
      July 14, 2023 at 18:01

      “But basically all of the irrational, backwards, intollerant fear-mongering in the Koran is borrowed directly from the Christian bible”

      It certainly looks that way; only the names have been slightly altered to protect the guilty.
      Of course the genuine, authentic writings from those times are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which some i believe, are in the possession of the Vatican.

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