By Julia Cabrera
By Julia Cabrera
Rabat – A 42-year-old Danish man is charged with blasphemy in Denmark after posting a video on Facebook of himself burning the Quran.
Denmark’s decision is unexpected, as the country is mainly secular and supportive of freedom of speech according to various European news outlets.
The man, who cannot be identified due to Danish laws, posted the 4’15 minute long video of himself burning the Quran in a anti-Islam Facebook page called, “Yes to Freedom- No to Islam,” according to Danish media The Local. At that time he was charged with hate speech, but on Wednesday his indictment was changed to blasphemy.
A trial date has been set for June, and the defendant could be sentenced to four months in prison or a fine, the New York Times reported.
Denmark’s blasphemy laws have not been practiced for over 46 years, when two radio producers were acquitted of the charge in 1971 after airing a song mocking Christianity.
The laws proscribe punishment for “publicly mocking a religious community’s religious doctrines or worship,” according to ABC News.
Religious tensions and free speech sensitivities in Denmark’s Muslim community have been rising since the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten released twelve cartoons of Mohammed in 2006.
According to The Local, Danish prosecutors did not invoke the blasphemy laws towards the newspaper, and the publication of the cartoons speared anger through the Muslim world.
Jan Reckendorff, a Danish prosecutor in the trial, made the decision to charge the defendant with blasphemy.
“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,” said Reckendorff in a Danish press release.
The defendant’s lawyer, Rasmus Paludan, countered that the blasphemy charge was self defense.
“The Quran contains passages on how Mohammed’s followers must kill the infidel, i.e. the Danes.” he said. “Therefore, it’s an act of self-defense to burn a book that in such a way incites war and violence.”
Denmark is one of five countries that have a law against blasphemy in the European Union. According to the New York Times, this case could lead to the removal of the law overall.