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In the wake of Sweden’s approval of a planned demonstration that will involve the burning of religious texts, including the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible, considerable controversy and backlash have emerged from various sectors around the world. Deborah Lipstadt, the US antisemitism envoy, has expressed her deep concern about the event, which is scheduled to take place in Stockholm this Saturday. In her statement, Lipstadt expressed fears that such acts can engender an atmosphere of trepidation, hampering the freedom of minorities to practice their religion without fear.

Controversial Approval

The Swedish authorities have approved an application filed by a man in his 30s to host a demonstration outside Israel’s Embassy in Stockholm, where religious texts are set to be burned. The organizer insists the event is merely a “symbolic gathering for the sake of freedom of speech,” organized in response to a Quran-burning incident that occurred outside a Stockholm mosque last month.

Widespread Condemnations

Various Jewish organizations around the globe, ranging from local communities to the World Jewish Congress, have expressed outrage and condemnation at the upcoming demonstration. The European Jewish Association, the World Jewish Congress, and numerous others have compared this event to Europe’s historical persecution of Jews and condemned it as an antisemitic act.

In addition, organizations such as the European Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League have sternly denounced the proposed religious text burning as an incendiary and offensive act.

Responses from Sweden and Abroad

While local Swedish authorities uphold the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, many critics assert that these actions are inherently inflammatory and designed to offend. The World Zionist Organization has argued that permitting such an act is a form of anti-Semitism rather than freedom of expression.

Amid the controversy, several Israeli officials have called upon Swedish authorities to reverse the decision, expressing their concern over the sacrilege. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen referred to the event as a hate crime and called for immediate intervention.

Backlash and International Calls for Intervention

The incident has sparked a broader international conversation, particularly given recent incidents where similar acts have been met with strong backlash. For example, the Quran burning in front of a Stockholm mosque was condemned as an Islamophobic act by the Swedish government and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


Despite these criticisms, the Swedish foreign ministry maintains the importance of upholding the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of assembly, expression, and demonstration.

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