Europe attacked by Muslim leaders at UN over Quran burnings

Europe attacked by Muslim leaders at UN over Quran burnings

Leaders of Turkey, Iran and Qatar used the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to attack Europe, condemning "vile" desecrations of the Quran.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the platform first to denounce what he called "intolerable" attacks in European countries against Islam.

An Iraqi refugee in Sweden, Salwan Momika, sparked international outrage in June by burning and trampling on Islam's holy book in front of Stockholm's largest mosque on the first day of Eid al-Adha, a holiday celebrated by Muslims across the world.

The Swedish government condemned the act while emphasising the importance of free speech on its soil.

Iraq requested Momika's extradition from the country last week.

Erdogan has piled pressure on Stockholm for months to counter these inflamatory acts, amid a period of simmering tensions between the two.

Ankara has frustrated Sweden's NATO bid, only lifting its veto in July.

Turkey criticises Stockholm for supposed leniency towards Kurdish activists who have taken refuge in its borders.

But observers say Erdogan is using this power to extort concessions, such as deporting his political enemies - something that infringes on Sweden's sovereignty.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, Turkey's number one alleged "racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia" in European countries had reached “intolerable” levels.

He accused "populist politicians in many countries of playing with fire", claiming "despicable attacks in Europe against the Quran... were darkening the [region's] future".

A January report by the Collective for Countering Islamaphobia in Europe (CCIE) found a "remarkable rise" of Islamophobia across Europe in 2022. This was intrinsically related to the resurgence of far-right nationalism, it added.

Denmark presented a bill at the end of August to ban Quran burnings.

In a speech slamming the US and West in general, conservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi said “the fire of disrespect would not destroy divine truth.”

The Islamic Republic leader held up a copy of the Quran several times which he kissed.

Last year, Raissi presided over the brutal suppression of a protest movement inside Iran.

There were widespread reports of violence, torture and rape of demonstrators by the security services operating under his command.

"The Islamophobia and cultural apartheid that we can observe in Western countries - ranging from the desecration of holy books of the Koran to the banning of the hijab in schools - and many other regrettable discriminations, do not relate to human dignity", said Raissi.

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose wealthy Gulf state is an ally of the West and has only a limited parliamentary democracy, said "the Quran was too sacred to be desecrated by an idiot."