A 42-year old man is being charged with blasphemy in Denmark after filming himself burning a Quran. He will be the first person to be charged under Denmark’s antiquated blasphemy law in nearly half a century.
The act was committed in December 2015 when the man burned a copy of the 7th century Islamic holy text in his own back yard. He later posted a recording of the burning with two captions: “Yes to freedom – no to Islam” and “Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns” to an Islam-critical Facebook page.
The act has now landed him in hot water. Danish prosecutor Jan Reckendorff brought charges against the man on Wednesday. “It is the prosecution’s view that circumstances involving the burning of holy books such as the Bible and the Quran can in certain cases be a violation of the blasphemy clause, which covers public scorn or mockery of religion,” he said in a press statement.
The Danish official’s unprecedented move may an attempt to placate the country’s Muslim community after a 2006 controversy in which Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper published twelve cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Images of Muhammad are strictly forbidden in Islam. Strict interpretations of the Quran mandate the death penalty for anyone who dares to exercise their free speech rights in order to draw the 7th century historical and religious figure.
Prosecutors refused to press charges against Jyllands-Posten, despite intense pressure by the Muslim community.
According to The Local, “This marks the fourth time in history anyone has been prosecuted under Denmark’s blasphemy clause.”