Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned “in the strongest terms” the desecration of the Quran by a far-right activist in the Netherlands as demonstrators gathered outside the Swedish and Dutch embassies in Kuala Lumpur to protest the recent destruction of the Quran in both countries.
Friday’s statement from the ministry was aimed at a Dutch far-right leader, Edwin Wagensveld, who tore pages from a Quran and stomped on them near parliament in The Hague on Sunday.
On Thursday, the foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s envoy to express the Malaysian government’s “objection and disappointment” with Sweden for not taking action to stop Rasmus Paluda, a Danish far-right political leader, from burning a Quran on Saturday near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
“Malaysia is appalled that such an Islamophobic act has been repeated within the last few days despite global condemnation,” the ministry said.
“Malaysia reiterates that bigotry, racism and any form of desecration of the Holy Scriptures, regardless of religion is unacceptable and should be condemned,” it said.
The right to freedom of expression involves “certain responsibilities and should not be abused”, the ministry said, calling on the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the UN’s Human Rights Council to “urgently address” the issue of protection of religious scriptures around the world.
The foreign ministry pressed Sweden on Thursday to take “serious measures to combat all forms of violence and hatred against Islam”.
Failing to do so would allow Islamophobia and xenophobia to continue to prevail, the ministry said in a statement after its meeting with the Swedish charge d’affaires.
Local media in Malaysia reported that groups of protesters had gathered on Friday at offices housing the embassies of Sweden and the Netherlands to protest the desecration of the Quran. Estimates of the numbers of protesters ranged from dozens to 100 and possibly as many as 1,000, according to one report.
Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said anger generated by the burning of the Quran had not diminished and the protesters had marched to the Swedish embassy to hand in a protest note.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had also weighed in on the matter, according to Looi, describing the desecration of the Quran as a “vile act” a “hate crime” and a “grave provocation to Muslims worldwide”.
Azmi Abdul Hamid, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisation, said there would be international consequences for what had taken place.
“You cannot say that this is a small matter. This will have an international repercussion,” he said at the protests.