'Hate cannot be categorised as freedom of expression': Top UAE diplomat on Quran burnings

Dr Anwar Gargash reacts to recent incidents involving the desecration of the holy book

By Web Desk

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 24 Jul 2023, 7:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 24 Jul 2023, 7:42 PM

Veteran UAE diplomat Dr Anwar Gargash on Monday weighed in on the outpouring of outrage being witnessed in several countries in light of incidents desecrating the Holy Quran.

The Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President took to Twitter to state: "The Swedish and Danish definition of freedom of expression falls into the mire of hatred and racism that is practised in a licensed manner by provoking the religious feelings of people. The world is in dire need of deepening the concepts of tolerance and coexistence based on respect for religions and the beliefs of others."


Dr Gargash further pointed out that "hate cannot be categorised in any way as freedom of expression." His remarks echo the UAE's position, which unequivocally rejected the "use of freedom of expression as justification for such heinous acts".

The Emirates has strongly condemned the burning of a copy of the holy Quran in front of the Iraqi embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. On Sunday, the Foreign Affairs office called on the Danish government to take responsibility to stop such acts.


The Ministry further underscored UAE's rejection of all practices aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of human values and principles and reaffirmed that hate speech and extremism contradict international efforts to spread the values of tolerance, coexistence and peace between peoples.

Quick fallout

Iraqis raise copies of the Quran during a protest in Tahrir Square, Baghdad. Photo: AP
Iraqis raise copies of the Quran during a protest in Tahrir Square, Baghdad. Photo: AP

The Muslim world has reacted strongly since the desecration of the holy book in Stockholm on June 28, with several countries condemning the act. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) suspended the status of Sweden's special envoy over the Quran burnings. The holy book was burned or defaced during recent public demonstrations in the Swedish capital.

The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Jassim Mohammed Albudaiwi has also called on Swedish authorities to take immediate action to prevent actions that fuel hatred and extremism.

Protestor Salwan Momika. Photo: AP
Protestor Salwan Momika. Photo: AP

An Iraqi asylum-seeker who burned a copy of the Quran during a demonstration on June 28 had threatened to do the same thing again on July 20 but ultimately stopped short of setting fire to the book. The man however, kick and step on it.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

A public burning of the Quran in Denmark on July 21 sparked more protests in Iraq, some of them violent. On July 22, hundreds of protesters attempting to storm Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and the seat of Iraq's government. Demonstrators torched facilities belonging to a demining project of the Danish Refugee Council.

While many countries around the world still have laws criminalizing blasphemy, Sweden and Denmark do not, and burning of holy texts is not specifically prohibited by law.

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