Pope Francis has condemned the burning of the Koran in Sweden last week, saying it made him feel ‘angry and disgusted’ to see the Muslin holy book desecrated.
Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi national who fled to Sweden several years ago, was charged with “agitation against an ethnic or national group” after he tore up pages of a copy of the holy book of Islam, wiped them on his shoe and eventually set the book on fire on Wednesday – the first day of Eid – last week.
“Any book considered holy should be respected to respect those who believe in it,” the Pope told the United Arab Emirates newspaper Al Ittihad, in an interview published on Monday.
“I feel angry and disgusted at these actions.”
“Freedom of speech should never be used as a means to despise others and allowing that is rejected and condemned,” the pontiff said.
Mr. Momika called his act a move to highlight the importance of freedom of speech in a democracy.
It is in danger if they tell us we can’t do this.”
It came after several Muslim countries condemned Sweden for allowing the Iraqi man to burn a Koran outside Stockholm’s main mosque on during the Eid al-Adha holiday and the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
While Swedish police have rejected several recent applications for antiKoran demonstrations, courts have over-ruled those decisions, saying they infringed freedom of speech.
On Sunday, an Islamic grouping of 57 states said collective measures are needed to prevent acts of desecration to the Koran and international law should be used to stop religious hatred.