Burning Quran Is Not Illegal, says NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg

Jens Stoltenberg said setting fire to the Muslim holy book is not illegal

In response to a question about the latest incident in Sweden, which sparked outrage among Muslims, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that burning the Quran is not necessarily illegal. Since the Muslim-majority nation of Turkey is one of two members who have refused to ratify Sweden’s membership in the US-led alliance, the issue is particularly sensitive.

Stoltenberg said at a press conference on Thursday that he understands the emotions and depth of feeling this can cause. According to him, burning the Quran was not necessarily illegal, but offensive.

The protests against NATO that took place in Sweden earlier this month were also addressed by Stoltenberg. My opinion of them is that they are not nice. It is my right to disagree, however. He explained that this is part of free speech.

The NATO chief stressed that Sweden’s membership in the alliance must be completed as soon as possible. We recently discussed a chance to meet at a high level with officials here in Brussels on Thursday, next week, after I spoke with [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.”

In the middle of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Wednesday, an Iraqi living in Sweden burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm.

The Turkish government, which is one of two member states that has not yet ratified Sweden’s membership bid, condemned the Swedish authorities for continuing to burn books.

Erdogan told Anadolu news agency on Thursday that insulting Muslims was not freedom of thought.

The Turkish leader said those who commit this crime, those who allow it with the guise of freedom of thought, will not achieve their goals if they turn a blind eye to it.

Kurdish and left-wing groups have previously organized anti-Turkish demonstrations in Stockholm. The Turkish leader has threatened to block Sweden’s NATO membership unless it extradites people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist group in Ankara.

It has previously been condemned by Swedish authorities, but they maintain that liberal laws protect such actions.

Foreign Minister Tobias Billström in January said, “Sweden has far-reaching freedom of speech, but that does not mean the government or myself support the views expressed.”

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