Swedish police have approved the burning of a Bible on Saturday outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm, officials said Friday.
The controversial decision follows similar burnings of the Koran in Sweden by activists that have sparked outrage in the Islamic world.
The police force last week confirmed that it had received an application from a man in his 30s to burn Jewish and Christian holy books outside the embassy on July 15 as “a symbolic gathering for the sake of freedom of speech.”
The demonstration is slated for Shabbat, when the Israeli embassy is closed, and observant Jews attend synagogue services during which the weekly Torah portion is read.
A recent public opinion poll in Sweden found that the majority of citizens now support a ban on the public burning of religious texts such as the Bible or the Koran.
The head of the Swedish Jewish community, who has come out against a ban on such burnings, said Friday that the best course of action was to ignore the situation.
“I would advise individuals to ignore this event and not give it more attention,” Aron Verstandig, chairman of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, told Zenger News. He said that the local community had tried and apparently failed to prevent the development.
Previous police rejections of similar petitions had been overturned by Swedish courts.
Stockholm had weighed stepping in to change the law to allow police to stop Koran burnings in public, in the wake of the damage to the country’s internal security triggered by such events.
“Such explicit acts of bigotry and hatred against the Jewish people is as much revolting as it is reprehensible and has no place amongst the liberal democracies of the world,” Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said in a statement Friday.
Chikli had previously written to the Swedish prime minister urging his government to intervene.
“The Swedish government deeply regrets when extremists and provocateurs try to sow division in our society, even when they are exercising constitutionally protected acts,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom had replied.
Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Ziv Nevo Kulman on Friday denounced the police decision.
“I utterly condemn the burning of holy books sacred to any religion, as an act of hate and disrespect, that has nothing to do with freedom of expression,” he said.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
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