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Islamic body calls for push to prevent Koran burnings

The Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday called for collective measures to avoid future Koran burnings, days after a copy was torched outside a Stockholm mosque.

Sunni Muslims take part in a demonstration in Karachi on July 2, 2023, as they protest against the burning of an Islamic holy book outside a Stockholm Mosque that outraged Muslims around the world. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP)

The Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Sunday called for collective measures to avoid future Koran burnings, days after a copy was torched outside a Stockholm mosque.

The 57-member body met at its Jeddah headquarters to respond to Wednesday’s incident in which an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, Salwan Momika, 37, stomped on the Islamic holy book and set several pages alight.

It coincided with the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday and the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, sparking anger across the Muslim world.

On Sunday, the OIC urged member states to “take unified and collective measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents of desecration of copies of the” Koran, according to a statement released after the “extraordinary” meeting.

The body’s secretary general, Hissein Brahim Taha, “stressed the need to send a clear message that acts of desecration” of the Koran are “not mere ordinary Islamophobia incidents,” the statement said.

“We must send constant reminders to the international community regarding the urgent application of international law, which clearly prohibits any advocacy of religious hatred.”

Taha condemned Momika’s Koran burning as “a despicable act”, echoing widespread denunciations that have included demonstrations near the Swedish embassy in Iraq’s capital.

Countries including Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco have summoned Swedish ambassadors in protest.

Swedish police had granted Momika a permit in line with free speech protections, but authorities later said they had opened an investigation over “agitation”.

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