Saudi-based Islamic body decries response to Koran burnings
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Monday voiced "disappointment" with the response by Sweden and Denmark to a spate of Koran burnings that have sparked outrage across the Middle East.
Secretary-general Hissein Brahim Taha called on both countries to prevent Koran desecration and "expressed his disappointment that no measures were taken in this regard so far", the 57-member, Jeddah-based body said in a statement after the opening session of an extraordinary meeting on the issue.
"It is unfortunate that the concerned authorities claiming freedom of expression continue to provide licences to repeat these acts contrary to international law, and this leads to a lack of respect for religions," Taha said in remarks during the meeting.
After the meeting ended, the OIC said Taha would lead a delegation to the European Union to urge officials there "to take the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such criminal acts under the pretext of freedom of expression".
It also called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special rapporteur on combating Islamophobia.
Around the time Taha was speaking on Monday afternoon, two men set the Koran alight in the latest such protest in Stockholm.
One of the men, Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, also burned pages of the Koran outside Stockholm's main mosque in late June and, earlier this month, stomped on the Koran outside the Iraqi embassy.
In Denmark, far-right group Danske Patrioter last week posted a video in which a man is seen desecrating and burning what appears to be the Koran and trampling an Iraqi flag.
Unrest in Iraq
The incidents have stoked unrest in Iraq, where hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Swedish embassy earlier this month and set fires within the compound.
The Danish Refugee Council has said its office in the southern Iraqi city of Basra came under "armed attack" in response to the Danske Patrioter video.
Governments across the region have also expressed their outrage.
Iraq expelled Sweden's ambassador and Iran said it would not allow a new Swedish ambassador into the country.
Saudi Arabia, home to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, has in recent weeks summoned Swedish and Danish diplomats to deliver protest notes denouncing "disgraceful" acts against the Koran.
Ahead of Monday's OIC meeting, both Sweden and Denmark reached out to try to calm tensions.
On Thursday, Taha received a phone call from Sweden's foreign minister, Tobias Billstrom, who said Stockholm rejects acts that insult the Koran and wants to maintain good relations with OIC members, the organisation said in a statement.
On Sunday, Taha received a call from Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who also "condemned" insults to the Koran and said his government was "studying this issue with great interest", the OIC said.