The Swedish police have allowed the public burning of sacred Jewish and Christian texts at a small protest in Stockholm.
The Swedish police have allowed the public burning of sacred Jewish and Christian texts at a small protest outside Israel’s embassy in Stockholm on July 15, reports The Jerusalem Post.
Israeli leaders and the Swedish Jewish community strongly condemned the approval of the burning of sacred texts, which echoes painful chapters of Jewish history in Europe, when the burning of books heralded times of extreme persecution, such as pogroms, expulsions, inquisitions, and the Holocaust.
„I strongly condemn Swedish authorities’ decision to the burning of the Hebrew Bible in front of the Israeli embassy in its country,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. „The State of Israel takes very seriously this shameful decision that harms the most sacred [scripture] of the Jewish people. The holy books of all religions must be respected,” he added.
Sweden, a country where legislation allows freedom of speech and respect for religious belief, could hardly prevent the protest.
Earlier this month, the Swedish police received at least three applications for events that involve the burning of religious scriptures – including the Quran, the Torah, and the New Testament.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that burning the Torah was „a hate crime, a provocation and a serious blow to the Jewish people and its traditions.”
„Permitting the defacement of sacred texts is not an exercise in freedom of expression; it is blatant incitement and an act of pure hate. The whole world must join together in clearly condemning this repulsive act,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Before the event, Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef, wrote to Prime Minister Olaf Kristerton of Sweden, emphasising that the „desecration of Israel’s sanctuaries is antisemitism, not freedom of expression.”
The umbrella organisation of Jewish communities in Sweden, along with the Jewish Central Council, the European Jewish Congress, the World Zionist Organization, the European Jewish Association, the European Coalition for Israel and several rabbis expressed profound consternation and sadness upon the approval of the burning of the Torah.
Photo credit: Karmei Tzur security department