‘Deeply offensive’: Pakistan strongly condemns desecration of Holy Quran in Netherlands

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By Webdesk

Security guards stand outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad in this undated image. — AFP/File
Security guards stand outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad in this undated image. — AFP/File
  • Far-right Dutch activist tears copy of Quran in The Hague. 
  • FO says Pakistan’s concerns being conveyed to Netherlands.
  • Deliberate, Islamophobic act deeply hurts feelings of Muslims: FO. 

The Foreign Office on Saturday strongly condemned another “provocative and deeply offensive act” of the desecration of the Holy Quran in The Hague — the site of the royal palace and the de facto capital of the Netherlands and also the seat of the International Court of Justice. 

The condemnation comes a day after a Dutch far-right activist tore up a copy of the Quran at a demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in The Hague on Friday. 

In a statement issued today, the FO said that “this deliberate Islamophobic act deeply hurts the feelings of two billion Muslims around the world, and threatens peaceful coexistence and inter-religious harmony”.

“Such offensive acts cannot be covered under legitimate freedom of expression, opinion and protest. International law obliges states to prevent and prohibit deliberate incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief,” added the statement. 

The FO also said that Pakistan believes that freedom of expression comes with responsibilities, adding that it is the responsibility of national governments and the international community at large to prevent racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic acts.

“That was the spirit behind the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2022 to mark March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia,” it said. 

The Foreign Office added that Pakistan’s concerns are being conveyed to the authorities in the Netherlands, urging them to be mindful of the sentiments of Muslims around the world and take steps to prevent such hateful and Islamophobic acts.

“We also call on the international community to raise its voice against Islamophobia and work collectively to promote interfaith harmony,” read the statement issued. 

The Dutch government had already condemned the holding of the demonstration ahead of the event but said it had no legal powers to prevent it.

Edwin Wagensveld, who leads the Dutch branch of the far-right group Pegida, damaged a copy of the Quran, AFP correspondents witnessed. He was accompanied by two other people.

Police had sealed off access to the street where the Turkish embassy was located and there were around fifty counter-protesters also present.

Some of them began throwing stones at Wagensveld when he tore up pages from the holy book. 

Around 20 police equipped with shields and batons intervened when some of the crowd tried to chase after him as he left.

Similar desecrations of the Holy Quran have also taken place in other European countries recently.

In late July, two men set fire to a copy of the Quran in front of the Swedish parliament, and Denmark also witnessed such incidents this year.

Such demonstrations have provoked anger and sometimes unrest in several Muslim countries. 

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