Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen strongly condemned on Friday Swedish activists’ plans to burn a copy of the Torah in front of the Israel’s embassy in Stockholm and called on the Swedish authorities to thwart the action.
Earlier in the day, the Swedish police granted local activists a permission to publicly burn copies of the Torah and the Bible in front of the Israeli embassy on July 15.
“Burning a scroll of the Torah is a hate crime, a provocation and infliction of serious harm on the Jewish people and the Jewish traditions. I call on the Swedish authorities to prevent this outrageous action and not to allow the burning of a scroll of the Torah. I authorized Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden Ziv Nevo Kulman and the [Israeli] Foreign Ministry to apply best efforts to prevent this disgraceful incident from happening,” Cohen said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog also condemned the decision of the Swedish authorities to authorize the burning of the holy books.
“Israel takes very seriously this disgraceful decision, which harms the holy of the holies of the Jewish people. Holy books of all religions must be respected,” Netanyahu tweeted.
Herzog, for his part, said that the permission issued by the Swedish government was not an exercise in freedom of expression, but “blatant incitement and an act of pure hate.”
“As the President of Israel, I condemned the burning of the Quran, sacred to Muslims world over, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people … The whole world must join together in condemning unequivocally this repulsive act,” the president tweeted.
In early June, the Swedish police said that it had received several applications requesting permission to publicly burn copies of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy books.
On June 28, the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, a protest took place outside Stockholm’s main mosque in which a Quran was burned. Swedish police authorized the demonstration with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson saying the permit was “lawful but inappropriate.”
A similar demonstration took place in Sweden in January, when Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burnt the Muslim holy book in front of the Turkish embassy.
The desecration and burning of the Quran was condemned by Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Turkey and Uzbekistan, as well as Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Gulf Cooperation Council chief Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi.