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Denmark’s parliament passed a new law that will criminalize the desecration of any holy text in the country, a move that follows a series of protests involving the burning of the Quran in recent months that have triggered angry protests in Muslim-majority nations, the Associated Press reported.
The new law will make it illegal “to inappropriately treat, publicly or with the intention of dissemination in a wider circle, a writing with significant religious significance for a religious community or an object that appears as such.”
The ban does not apply to artwork where “a minor part” includes desecration, as long as it’s part of a bigger artistic creation.
People violating the new rules could face fines and up to two years in prison.
The legislation comes after Denmark and neighboring Sweden have seen in recent months anti-Islam protesters burning the Quran in front of embassies of Muslim countries, places of worship and immigrant neighborhoods.
Denmark’s ruling coalition has tried to distance itself from the book burnings while emphasizing that freedom of expression is one of the most important values of Danish society.
Even so, the incidents prompted anger from many Muslim countries, boycotts of Scandinavian goods and concerns over security threats in the European nations.
In August, the Danish government introduced a draft of the law, saying it was necessary to counter “the systematic mockery” that has contributed to intensifying the threat of terrorism in Denmark.
However, left-leaning and far-right lawmakers chided the government for being “cowards,” adding that the bill was a capitulation to Islam and that it was bowing down to countries that “do not share (our) set of values.”
This is not the first time Denmark stirred controversy among Muslim countries.
In 2006, Denmark faced global Muslim outrage when a newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, including one with a turban resembling a bomb.
The images sparked violent protests by Muslims worldwide, who consider images of the prophet sacrilegious.