Imam on Koran burnings: "Clearly Islamophobia"

The Koran burnings in Sweden have provoked strong reactions worldwide, especially in the Muslim world. Abdullahi Feysal, imam in Skellefteå, reacts to the events: "It's clearly Islamophobia.

Parts of Kanalgatan were cordoned off during Rasmus Paludan's latest visit to Skellefteå.

Parts of Kanalgatan were cordoned off during Rasmus Paludan's latest visit to Skellefteå.

Foto: Melker Westerberg

Skellefteå2023-08-02 11:31

The recent Koran burnings have upset many, especially Muslims. Not only in Sweden but also internationally, these incidents have sparked strong reactions. They even led to the storming of Sweden's embassy in Baghdad by outraged protesters.

In Skellefteå, several Muslims have also taken note of these actions, which are justified based on Sweden's constitutional right to freedom of speech.

Several hundred people gathered to listen to the right-wing extremist provocateur during his visit to Skellefteå.

Abdullahi Feysal, an imam in Skellefteå, doesn't see the connection.

– Freedom of speech is about how people express their opinions. I don't understand why the Muslim holy book, the Koran, is being targeted. Why is that? It is clear that it is Islamophobia. I don't see a clear link with freedom of expression, he argued.

Feysal believes the solution to the problem would be to simply ban the desecration of holy books, in this case the Koran. He believes that the police should not give permission for the Koran to be burned.

Right-wing extremist provocateur Rasmus Paludan, acting police chief Lars Persson, and imam Abdullahi Feysal.

– It has happened several times now, and of course Muslims in Sweden and around the world have reacted. Many Muslims are not happy with such incidents. This should not happen; you should not be allowed to burn a holy book. Sweden should put a stop to this, says Feysal.

Last summer, Rasmus Paludan visited Skellefteå with the intention of burning the holy book of Islam. So far, no new applications have been made to the police in the Västerbotten region, according to the acting police chief in Skellefteå, Lars Persson.

– We have a special oversight group, and there have been no reports of Korans being burned. It is a trend, but it usually takes a while. It usually starts in the big cities and then spreads to other areas. But it doesn't get as much publicity here, he says.

Paludan burned a koran in Skellefteå last year.

What is the state of preparedness in the event of a Koran being burned in Skellefteå?

We'll have to assess that at the time. If it's a major event, we'll first look at the resources here in Västerbotten. During the holiday season we are more vulnerable because we have fewer police officers on duty.

At least one police officer was hit by a stone during Paludan's visit in Skellefteå.

What was the situation like last year?

There was a police report afterwards. Some commotion, some throwing, you know. But I think the media get more feedback than we do. If we get any, it is usually sent by e-mail to the top boss, says Persson.