Is Burning a Holy Book Freedom of Expression/Speech?

Director of Freemuslim, Mujtaba Akhawnd, attended an event about the importance of  asking the right question when it comes to Human Rights and mediation. In this event hosted by the Columbia Law School and the United Nations Institute of Training and Research at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, multiple important scenarios were discussed and key topics were talked about. Mr. Akhawnd poses the scenario of Sweden’s politician and his claim to practice “Freedom of Speech” or “Freedom of Expression,” and expressed the negative impact this subject has on hearts of Muslims, friends of Muslims, and people of different faiths that share common concerns as people of who have religious affiliation.

Panelists elaborated that country law, in this case Sweden,  allows for anyone to practice such action under the umbrella of “Freedom of Expression” and “Freedom of Speech.” Mr. Paludan is a far-right extremist politician who has publicly burnt copies of the Holy Quran as a way to gain followers and to showcase his extremist views towards minority groups in Sweden. Swedish Muslims express their concern about lack of Right to Respond and Right to Reply to allegations wrongfully posed by Mr. Paludan as representation of Islam.

The Swedish law permits Mr. Paludan’s action as Freedom to Express/ Freedom of Speech but the permissibility by the law does not make something right and socially acceptable.

We ask Swedish Muslims to become more proactive in promoting purity of Islam, and bridging the gap of misunderstanding through dialogue and actively being involved in promotion of social changes that helps change the narrative that has created a vacuum in politics so a politician can express their freedom through such action.

We also urge countries to facilitate platforms for people to voice their opinion and have dialogue to bridge the gap between different people with different opinions and beliefs. Extremist groups do not represent any religion, especially religion of Islam nor should their actions be seen as representation of Islam as a religion.