Pope Francis condemns desecration of Quran in Sweden

DUBAI: Pope Francis has said that the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden made him feel “angry and disgusted.”

In an exclusive interview with United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Ittihad, he said: “Any book considered sacred by its believers must be respected. The Pope rejected the burning of the holy book in name of freedom of expression, calling it a despise act.

“And a roadmap for anyone who courageously chooses to be a peacemaker in our world torn apart by war, violence, hatred and terrorism. Human fraternity is the antidote the world needs to heal from the poison of these wounds,” the Pope said.

In his first statement about the incident of the burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden he said: “Allowing this is unacceptable and condemned.”

He said, “Our mission is to transform the religious sense into cooperation, fraternity, and tangible actions for good. Today we need peacebuilders, not weapons makers. We need peacebuilders, not instigators of conflict. We need firefighters, not the arsonists.. in need of preachers, of reconciliation, not of those threatened with destruction…. Either a civilization of brotherhood or reactionary enmity.. Either we build the future together, or there will be no future.

The future of interfaith cooperation is based on the principle of reciprocity, respect for others and the truth.”

Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee who fled to Sweden several years ago, tore up and burnt pages of the Islamic holy book on Thursday as Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Adha.

Although Momika was originally granted permission by Swedish police to carry out burn the holy book outside the Stockholm Central Mosque, he was charged with agitation against an ethnic group, when the act drew international outcry.

The Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned the act and issued a statement: “We must send constant reminders to the international community regarding the urgent application of international law, which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred.

The act also angered Turkey, an OIC member, whose backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the NATO military alliance.

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said, “we believe the act created an environment of fear that will impact the ability of Muslims and members of other religious minority groups from freely exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief in Sweden”.

Meanwhile, several countries summoned Swedish diplomats to their respective foreign ministries to lodge strong protest over the burinng of the Holy Quran.

Morocco recalled its ambassador to Sweden for an indefinite period in protest.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement calling it a “despicable act” and said that “the recurrence of such Islamophobic incidents in the last few months in the West calls into serious question the legal framework which permits such hate-driven actions”.

“Pakistan’s concerns about the incident are being conveyed to Sweden,” the FO said.

Meanwhile, the Swedish foreign ministry issued a statement saying, “the Swedish government fully understands that the Islamophobic acts committed by individuals at demonstrations in Sweden can be offensive to Muslims”.

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