Sweden condemned as police greenlight Jewish holy book burning protest

Israel's President Isaac Herzog was one of several Israeli representatives and Jewish organisations to immediately condemn the decision


Isaac Herzog has condemned Swedish police after they approved the planned burning of a Jewish holy book outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm.

Authorities in the Swedish capital said they had received an application from a man asking to burn a Jewish holy book and Christian bible outside the embassy on Saturday.

The controversial protest comes weeks after a man set fire to pages of the Koran outside Stockholm's main mosque - leading to widespread outrage and condemnations around the world.

The Israeli president, who is one of several high-profile figures to condemn the burning, said in a statement: "I unequivocally condemn the permission granted in Sweden to burn holy books.

"I condemned the burning of the Koran, sacred to Muslims world over, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people."

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs added on Twitter: “Burning holy books is an act of hatred and intolerance”. A spokesperson for the Ministry later condemned the intention to burn the holy text and called on Sweden to prevent the protest. 

Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said in a statement that granting the permit was "not freedom of expression but Antisemitism".

The European Jewish Congress president Dr Ariel Muzicant said: "Stamping on the deepest religious and cultural sensibilities of people is the clearest expression possible to send a message that minorities are unwelcome and unrespected.

"These actions, based on contorted and specious free speech arguments, are a disgrace to Sweden and any democratic government worthy of the name should prevent it.”

But Stockholm police said that in line with Swedish legislation they granted permits for people to hold public gatherings and not for the activities conducted during them.

Carina Skagerlind, press officer for Stockholm police, said: "The police does not issue permits to burn various religious texts - the police issues permits to hold a public gathering and express an opinion. An important distinction."

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