Statement on Rasmus Paludan’s latest Qur’an burning in Sweden 

Lately, Quran burnings has received renewed attention after Rasmus Paladan, leader of the far right and anti-Muslim party ‘Stram Kurs’, once again has burned the Muslim holy book. This time outside the Embassy of Turkey in Stockholm.  
Last year, Civil Rights Defenders reported Paludan to the police for hate speech (agitation against minority groups), after Paludan burned the Qur’an on several occasions around Sweden during the spring. Due to Paludan’s latest Qur’an burning, Civil Rights Defenders has received many questions about our police reports and what is happening now. Here you can read more about the case and Civil Rights Defenders’ position: 

Civil Righs Defenders police reports against Paludan in brief 

In June last year, Civil Rights Defenders reported Paludan to the police for hate speech, after Paludan burned the Qur’an on several occasions around Sweden during the spring. Civil Rights Defenders believes that the burnings constitute hate crime. Sweden has legislation to protect minorities against, among other things, hate speech and according to Civil Rights Defenders, Paludan’s actions are covered by this legislation.  

In total, we submitted four reports to the police’s hate crime groups in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, where several of Paludan’s Qur’an burnings and demonstrations took place. 

Here you can read more about our police reports against Paludan and why we argue that the burnings constitute hate crime. 

What does Civil Rights Defenders think about Paludan’s latest burning of the Qur’an in Sweden? 

Civil Rights Defenders takes all forms of hate crime seriously and underlines the importance of the government and the judiciary to actively work to combat hate crimes. We also emphasise that the state, not least politicians, have a specific responsibility not to contribute to racial discrimination, which is stated in for example the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

We have previously reported Paludan to the police for hate speech, since the burning of the Qur’an is a symbolic act with a racist meaning. The burning of the Qur’an has also historically been used to express agitation against Muslims.  

However, our view is that the question of whether Qur’an burnings constitute hate speech must ultimately be decided in court. In investigating the crime, the judiciary must take into account international human rights standards by which Sweden is bound. 

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and a necessary condition for a free and democratic society. However, it is important that it is made clear where the boundaries of freedom of expression lie. Equally fundamental to a democratic society are the right not to be discriminated against and the protection against racial discrimination, through the hate crime legislation that Sweden has adopted in connection with the ratification of the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. 

What is happening right now regarding Civil Rights Defenders’ police reports? 

A pre-trial investigation is currently underway in Malmö in one of the cases. The case is under pre-trial secrecy. 

Will Civil Rights Defenders report Paludan to the police again? 

We have not filed a new police report. We are following the case and need to make a thorough analysis of the latest events and the legal situation before deciding whether – or how – we proceed legally. 

Read more 

Do you want to know more about hate speech and why we previously reported Paludan to the police? Read more here where we develop our argumentation and link to our police reports. 

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