China has joined the Muslim community in denouncing the recent burnings of the Quran in Sweden, with the Foreign Ministry calling for tolerance of minority groups’ religious beliefs.
Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party, incited riots in southern Sweden after carrying out an anti-Muslim demonstration that involved burning a copy of the Muslim holy book over Easter weekend.
Paludan, who has been known to stage offensive provocations against Muslims in recent years, also threatened to burn more copies of the Quran in the future.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticized the recent incident, saying, “Freedom of speech cannot be a reason to incite racial or cultural discrimination and tear society apart.”
“We hope Sweden can earnestly respect the religious beliefs of minority groups, including Muslims,” he added.
On Tuesday, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha condemned “the provocative actions of burning copies of the Holy Quran during anti-Muslim demonstrations, which have been taking place in Linkoping, Norrkoping, and other cities in Sweden.”
According to the pan-Muslim group, the burning has raised Muslim concerns about “the alarming trend of Islamophobia perpetuated by extreme right supporters.”
Taha noted, however, that the incident “does not reflect the views of the majority of Swedish and European citizens.”
A number of Arab and Muslim countries have similarly criticized the Quran burning, with some calling it a provocation of the Muslim world.
China has been accused of committing genocide against the Uyghurs and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region. It has claimed that its actions are aimed at countering terrorism and alleviating poverty.