Denmark tightens border control after Koran burnings

People demonstrate against desecration of the Koran in Denmark, in Sanaa

People demonstrate against the desecration of the Koran in Denmark, in Sanaa, Yemen July 24, 2023. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/File Photo

COPENHAGEN, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Denmark is tightening border controls to boost domestic security and prevent unwanted people from entering the country after recent Koran burnings, the government said, following a similar decision by Sweden earlier this week.

Authorities fear revenge attacks after anti-Islam activists in Denmark and Sweden burned and damaged several copies of the Muslim holy book in recent months, prompting outrage across the Muslim world and calls for governments to ban such actions.

“The authorities have today concluded that it is currently necessary to increase the focus on who is traveling into Denmark, in order to respond to the concrete and current threats,” the Danish Ministry of Justice said in a statement late Thursday.

A small group of Danish far-right activists have burned at least ten copies of the Koran in the past week and said they plan to burn more Korans at two demonstrations on Friday and at three more events over the weekend.

The Danish and Swedish governments have condemned the burnings and are considering new laws to stop them. But domestic critics say any such decision would undermine free speech protected in their constitutions.

Denmark’s tightened border controls will initially be in place until 10 August.

“The recent Koran burnings have, as the security police have said, affected the current security situation,” says Minister of Justice Peter Hummelgaard.

The decision to tighten border controls with more checks on travelers arriving in Denmark follows a similar move by Sweden.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said late Thursday that religious texts should not be burned.

“I think it would be wrong if someone stood there and burned the Bible. I also don’t think we should burn the Torah for the sake of those who belong to the Jewish faith,” says Frederiksen to DR.

Muslims regard the Koran as the literal word of God, and actual or alleged desecration of the holy book often sparks protests in the Muslim world.

Reporting by Johannes Birkebæk and Terje Solsvik Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel, Peter Graff

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