July 7, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10697

Pakistani Clerics Call For Jihad Against Sweden Quran Burnings, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Orders Nationwide Anti-Sweden Protests; Editorials In Pakistani Dailies: 'Disrespecting The Holy Quran Is A Specific Weapon Of Extremists In The West'; It Is Possible 'To Distinguish Between Freedom Of Speech And Malicious Actions Calculated To Insult And Offend'

July 7, 2023
Pakistan | Special Dispatch No. 10697

There have been harsh reactions in Pakistan to the recent Quran burnings in Sweden. On July 1, 2023, Alama Qari Naveed Masood Hashmi, the noted Islamic religious scholar and Central President of Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Resalat (Movement for the Protection of the Honor of Prophet Muhammad), told Muslim young people: "In order to counter the growing incidents of the desecration of the Quran and blasphemy of the Prophet, the sentiments of jihad will have to be birthed."[1] The group, which he leads, campaigns against Ahmadi Muslims for allegedly not believing that Muhammad was the last prophet.

"The rulers of the Islamic countries should declare jihad against elements [which blaspheme the Quran and Muhammad]. Only by adopting the path of jihad can the dignity of the Quran and honor of Prophet Muhammad be assured at the international level," Qari Naveed Masood Hashmi said in a statement issued jointly with other religious scholars.[2]

As per a Roznama Ummat report, Qari Naveed Masood Hashmi and other Islamic religious scholars of Pakistan called for jihad to counter incidents such as Quran burnings.

In a July 3 letter to the Speaker of the Swedish Assembly, Sadiq Sanjrani, chairman of Pakistan's Senate, expressed his regret at the desecration of the Quran, writing: "The Quran is our holy book which is a beacon of light. The feelings of Muslims have been hurt by the desecration of our Holy Book."[3]

Sadiq Sanjrani said that he wanted to address the Swedish parliament to clear up the misunderstandings about Islam: "The parliament of Sweden should remove misunderstandings about Islam. In modern times, there should be no space for blaspheming religious sentiments."[4]

On July 4, Pakistan's Samaa TV reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had called for a nationwide protest on Friday, July 7, against the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden. He added that that the government has also decided to observe Yaum-i-Taqaddus Quran (Day to Uphold the Sanctity of the Quran).[5]

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for nationwide protest against the Quran burnings in Sweden

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan said that the burning of Holy Quran in Sweden between the days of Hajj and Eid Al-Adha and with permission of the court is "an act of war and an attack on the Muslim world" that will push  the world toward the Third World War.[6]

According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Dunya, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, the largest religious group in South Asia, staged a rally outside the Swedish Embassy in Islamabad on July 3, 2023 to protest against the Quran burnings. Addressing the rally, General Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Amirul Moazzam said that the West always created hurdles for Islam, while the Satans of the West always targeted Allah's religion and Quran.[7]

Earlier, on July 2, Islamic religious scholars in Pakistan-administered Kashmir protested against the Quran burnings and urged Pakistan to expel the Swedish ambassador and sever diplomatic ties with Sweden.[8] They said that the incidents of desecration of Quran in France, Norway, Denmark, U.S. and now in Sweden have hurt the hearts of the Muslim of the world, they said.[9]

Below are two editorials – one from the Urdu daily Roznama Jasarat and another from the liberal English-language newspaper Dawn – examining the controversy:

Roznama Jasarat: "Under The American Patronage, The West Has Its Own History Of Filthy Games; The Beginning Of The Public Desecration Of The Holy Quran Began In 2010 In The Town Of Gainesville, In The U.S. State Of Florida"

Roznama Jasarat wrote in its editorial:[10]

"In Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, on the day of Eid al-Adha, the Holy Quran was burned outside the city's largest mosque. Blasphemy against the honor of the merciful Prophet [Muhammad] and desecration of the Holy Quran is not a new phenomenon.

"Under the American patronage, the West has its own history of filthy games. The beginning of the public desecration of the Holy Quran began in 2010 in the town of Gainesville in the U.S. state of Florida, when an anti-Islam pastor of a church declared September 11 Quran Burning Day in memory of the 9/11 attacks. Disrespecting the Holy Quran is a specific weapon of extremists in the West, aimed at causing hurt to Muslims. This also shows that a generation of intolerance has grown up in the West where arguments and facts are deliberately ignored.

A screenshot of Roznama Jasarat editorial

"Some former prisoners released from American jails have revealed that in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and in the torture cells of Guantanamo Bay, when a prisoner with a strong nerve could not be controlled by the worst torture, he was threatened to open his mouth by telling that if he did not tell the truth, copies of the Quran would be thrown at his feet or the Quran would be wrapped in pig fat before his eyes. He was also threatened with the trashing of the Quran in a toilet flush.

"Hearing this, the same prisoner who was withstanding waterboarding, nail pulling, electric shocks, and other forms of torture would immediately confess sins which he had not committed. It is said that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui [the Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year prison term in the U.S. for trying to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and for her links with Al-Qaeda] was subjected to such mental torture.

"In Sweden, incidents of burning the Furqan Hameed [Holy Quran] have been occurring for a long time. On January 21 of this year, in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, a right-wing Swedish politician of Danish origin who heads the extremist hardline party Rasmus Paludan spent an hour uttering obscenities against Islam, the Quran, and the holy figures. Then he set fire to the copy of the Quran with a cigarette lighter. 

"During this, the police had taken Paludan under its security cordon. Protesting against this incident, Muslims knocked on the door of the judiciary. The government was also worried about the public protests, so the police banned Quran desecration in February, calling it a threat to public order. "

"Not Only Is Quran Desecration Allowed By Swedish Law, But Protection Of This 'Constitutional Right' Has Been Declared The Responsibility Of The Police"

"Around this time, 37-year-old Salwan Momika, who had fled Iraq with a criminal past and found political asylum in Sweden, became obsessed with the Quran, calling it an enemy of humanity and demanding that it be banned. Salwan says that he is not against Muslims, but that he sympathizes with Muslims, and that Muslim religious beliefs have had such a negative impact on the civilized world that there is a need for a universal ban on the Quran.

"Salwan and anti-Islam elements filed an application in the court against the police order banning Quran desecration, calling the ban on Quran burning an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of expression. In April, the court ruled that the right to assembly and protest is constitutionally protected so that it is the duty of law enforcement to protect all forms of protest. In other words, not only is Quran desecration allowed by Swedish law, but the protection of this 'constitutional right' has been declared the responsibility of the police. 

"As soon as Salwan Momika obtained permission from the court, he chose the day of Eid Al-Adha for burning the Quran and installed two large flags of Sweden in front of the central mosque of Stockholm. As the national anthem and war songs were played on loudspeakers, he smeared bacon (pig fat) on the Quran and tore its pages and trampled them under feet with humiliation and then set the copy to fire. During this time, the police had set up a security cordon around Salwan for protection.

"There is no shortage of extremist like Salwan in the world. However, the regrettable aspect of this incident is that Quran burning was done under a court order, and the protection provided to Salwan Momika by the police was equivalent to a VIP protocol."

"The European Philosophy Of Protecting Free Speech Does Not Stand In The Way Of Anti-Blasphemy; Sweden Is A Constitutional Monarchy And Criticism Of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf Is Not Allowed"

"On this occasion too, the West's insensitive attitude toward Islam came to the fore. U.S. State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel said that burning religious books is insulting and heart-breaking and is not appropriate even if it is legal. Additionally, he instructed Turkey to approve Sweden's NATO membership as soon as possible.

"NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's condemnation statement is similar. Speaking to reporters in Brussels, he said he did not like the practice, but for some people it is a matter of freedom of expression. [He added that] we understand the sentiments of Muslims, but we expect Sweden's membership to NATO to be ratified as soon as possible.

Protests in Peshawar and Lahore against the Quran burnings in Sweden (image: Roznama Ummat, July 4, 2023)

"Sweden is a candidate for NATO membership, and under the NATO constitution, approval of a new declaration of membership is subject to the consent of all members. According to CNN, NATO officials have announced that Sweden will join the military alliance by July 11. However, Turkey is proving to be the biggest obstacle so far. Condemning the burning of the Quran, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said in clear words, 'We will teach the arrogant people of the West, Allah willing, that insulting Muslims is not freedom of expression.'

"The European philosophy of protecting free speech does not stand in the way of anti-blasphemy. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and criticism of His Majesty Sultan Carl XVI is not allowed. Why can't the sanctity and respect of Prophets, inspired books and personalities be ensured by drawing a similar red line?"

"The Reality Is That These Incidents Are Symbols Of The Misfortune, Degradation, And Weakness Of Muslim Countries Around The World; Despite The Disrespect To The Greatest And Most Revered Book, The Muslim Ummah Remains Silent"

"After this incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived at the oldest mosque of  Russia in the town of  Derbent, Dagestan yesterday [July 1], where he was presented with a copy of the Holy Quran on the day of Eid. On this occasion, the Russian president said that 'the Holy Quran is the holy book of Muslims, and it should be the holy book for people of other religions as well.' He said that we know what is happening in other countries; these people do not respect the religious feelings of others and then brazenly say that it is not a crime.

"Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has also condemned [the incident in Sweden]. The Saudi Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned and said that such incidents are a sign of Islamophobia. The spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanaani said: 'This is a provocative, illegitimate, and unacceptable act through which the repeated desecration of sacred figures is being paved.'

"The OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] also convened a traditional meeting of its own. [The late South Asian Islamic scholar and Jamaat-e-Islami founder] Syed Abul A'la Maududi said years ago that 'the progress of Muslim societies caught in decline and retrogression is possible through adoption of the golden principles of Islam, not through imitating others. The Muslim Ummah will have to return into the embrace of Islam in order to establish and maintain its identity among the nations of the world. The need of the hour is the benefit from modern sciences, but the slavery of foreigners is still the path to destruction.'

"The reality is that these incidents are symbols of the misfortune, degradation, and weakness of Muslim countries around the world. Despite the disrespect to the greatest and most revered book, the Muslim Ummah remains silent and preoccupied with their daily affairs. It is unfortunate for the Ummah that today it has no leadership and the rulers are engaged in the affairs of America and the West and are lost in misdeeds. The desire and necessity of this matter is the only way to save the Muslim Ummah from its original task."

Dawn: It Is Possible "To Distinguish Between Freedom Of Speech And Malicious Actions Calculated To Insult And Offend; It Should Be Clear, Especially To The Western World, That The Desecration Of The Holy Quran Comes Under The Second Category"

Below are excerpts from the editorial in the liberal newspaper Dawn, in the original English:[11]

"It is not impossible to distinguish between freedom of speech and malicious actions calculated to insult and offend. And it should be clear, especially to the Western world, that the desecration of the Holy Quran comes under the second category.

"The appalling incident, where an Iraqi refugee burned a copy of the Holy Book outside a mosque in the Swedish capital, is not the first of its kind. Nor is it likely to be the last — unless Western nations go beyond the usual condemnation and pass and enforce strict laws to deter those whose hate-filled narrative against the world's 1.8bn Muslims continues to be fanned by the lethargy of governments.

"A similar incident took place in Stockholm in January, when a politician from the far-right desecrated the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy — an act for which he received a mere rap on the knuckles when the Swedish prime minister described it as 'deeply disrespectful.' Preceding this description was his assertion: 'But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate.'

"Perhaps it is the 'legality' of such atrocious actions — and not only in Sweden — that needs to be questioned. Following the recent incident, condemnation has poured in from all sides. The EU has termed it 'an act provocation,' saying, 'manifestations of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Europe' – which, unfortunately, has hardly proved factual, as so many anti-Islam incidents in various European countries have demonstrated."

"Just As Europe, And Countries Outside It, Seek To Curb Anti-Semitism, They Should Deploy All, Including Legal, Means To Stop The March Of Islamophobia Before It's Too Late"

"Sweden has voiced similar criticism of the latest episode, but added that the country had a 'constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression, and demonstration.'

"The Pope was more to the point when he said, 'Freedom of speech should never be used as a means to despise others and allowing that is rejected and condemned.' The 57-member OIC, meanwhile, has called for the application of international law 'which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred.'

"Europe will never forget the dark days of Hitler and World War II when six million Jews were sent to their death. Images and stories from that era are etched not only on the memory of the individuals who lived through those times but also on the soul of the generations that followed. In 2005, the UN designated Jan 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"Several European countries have laws that criminalize Holocaust denial. The world today is going down a similar path of hate — against ethnic and religious communities, against minorities, against the 'other.'

"It was this venom spewed on the Muslim world that led the UN to designate March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Just as Europe, and countries outside it, seek to curb anti-Semitism, they should deploy all, including legal, means to stop the march of Islamophobia before it's too late."


[1] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), July 2, 2023.

[2] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), July 2, 2023.

[3] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), July 4, 2023.

[4] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), July 4, 2023.

[5] (Pakistan), July 4, 2023.

[6] Roznama Dunya (Pakistan), July 3, 2023

[7] Roznama Dunya (Pakistan), July 4, 2023.

[8] Roznama Ausaf (Pakistan), July 3, 2023.

[9] Roznama Ausaf (Pakistan), July 3, 2023.

[10] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), July 2, 2023.

[11] Dawn (Pakistan), July 4, 2023.

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