Saudi Arabia seeks decisive global action to prevent recurrence of Qur’an desecration

By Ashary S. Tamano, WebMaster
Published by SAUDI GAZETTE, July 02, 2023

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia strongly condemned and denounced the despicable act of the Holy Qur’an burning in Sweden. The Kingdom called on the international community to stand firmly against such provocative practices as well as to take decisive measures to prevent their recurrence.

Dr. Saleh Al-Suhaibani, permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), made this call while chairing the emergency open meeting of the OIC Executive Committee at the OIC headquarters here on Sunday to discuss the Qur’an burning incident.

Presiding over the session, Dr. Al-Suhaibani strongly denounced the act that was taken place on Wednesday, the first day of Eid Al-Adha. The copy of the Holy Qur’an was burned by Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee, in front of the Central Mosque in Stockholm, capital of Sweden on June 28.

The OIC meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia, the current chair of the pan Islamic organization, which groups 57 Muslim countries, to discuss the measures to be taken in the wake of the Qur’an burning incident.

The OIC meeting denounced the act, saying that the incident undermines mutual respect among people and global efforts to foster tolerance and moderation. Addressing the session, OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha called upon the member states to unite and take collective measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

In his speech, Al-Suhaibani said that the Kingdom voiced its strong condemnation and denunciation of these repeated despicable acts, stressing that these abhorrent acts cannot be accepted under any justification. These clearly incite hatred, exclusion and racism, and violate divine laws and all decisions of the international charters calling for harmony, peace, and rapprochement.

“This abdominal act happened at a time when Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha in a beautiful way and happy times that embody the most wonderful images of cohesion and cooperation for the benefit of humanity, seeking peace and harmony, and at the same time when the guests of God perform Hajj to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and coexistence. It is unfortunate that such a repeated and hateful attempts, and extreme and despicable acts were committed, for the fourth time in a row, under the protection and authorization of the authorities of a country that is deemed civilized,” he said while noting that this blatant incident targets Islam, and provokes the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world.

These attempts to desecrate the Holy Qur’an were committed under the false pretext of freedom of opinion and expression, which contradicts the spirit of Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the contradiction of the Action Plan agreed upon by international consensus in accordance with Human Rights Council Resolution No. 16/18, which combats incitement to hatred and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, he said.

The Saudi representative reaffirmed that such acts directly contradict international efforts that aim to spread the values of tolerance, moderation, and rejection of extremism, and undermine the principles of mutual respect necessary for maintaining cordial relations between peoples and states. In this regard, the Kingdom stressed the need to take decisive measures by the international community and OIC to prevent the recurrence of such practices that are outside human values and moral principles. He said that such blatant actions will only lead to more fanaticism and extremism, spreading hatred and violence, and sowing discord and evils at a time when people are in dire need of acquaintance, rapprochement and harmony.

Al-Suhaibani reaffirmed the responsibility of those countries to prevent the recurrence of calls for incitement and hate crimes, and to stand firmly against these provocative practices. He also underscored the need to uphold the common denominators of the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among peoples, and the promotion of means of dialogue among civilizations in accordance with the operative part of the relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular the UN General Assembly Resolution 66/167 in view of the fact that spreading such noble human values and principles is the best way to confront hate speech, fanaticism and extremism.

Al-Suhaibani expressed the hope of Saudi Arabia that the OIC member states would help activate the role of the Islamophobia Observatory and support it by all means to carry out its role properly. He also urged the OIC offices of abroad to take the initiative, in coordination with the permanent missions of the member states of the organization, to work together in the same direction.

The representative called on the OIC General Secretariat to speed up constructive engagement with all international stakeholders and influential public opinion makers in the world in order to combat the phenomenon of Islamophobia, and to address such blatant actions by formulating an effective strategy aimed at creating an international environment conducive to civilizational harmony and emanating from the organization’s 10-year plan. He recalled the operative decisions of previous Islamic summits and ministerial councils and the precious charter of the organization in this regard in addition to working closely with regional and international organizations to raise global awareness against the phenomenon of Islamophobia.

Al-Suhaibani urged to place the desecration of the Holy Qur’an and Islamic symbols and sanctities in the priorities of the agenda of the coordination meetings of foreign ministers that will be held on the sidelines of the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, as well as the upcoming Islamic Summit and Ministerial Councils, with the aim of taking more effective measures to address this negative phenomenon against Islam and Muslims.