Çavuşoğlu: Hate crimes are not freedom of expression

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu denounced the Swedish authorities for allowing an extremist to burn a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm, stressing that such crimes do not fall within the framework of freedom of thought and expression.

This came in a press statement on Saturday, after meeting with a number of businessmen in the Manavgat district of Antalya, southern Turkey.

He pointed out that Turkey was quick to take the necessary steps as soon as it learned that the Swedish authorities had allowed the leader of the far-right Danish “hard line” party, Rasmus Paludan, to burn a copy of the Holy Qur’an in front of the Ankara embassy building in Stockholm.

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Çavuşoğlu indicated that the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador to Ankara to the ministry’s headquarters and issued the necessary warnings to him.

He also pointed out that the Turkish ambassador to Stockholm, Yonat Jan Zell, spoke directly with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom in this regard.

He stressed that hate and racism crimes do not fall within the framework of freedom of thought and expression, whether according to Swedish laws or decisions of the Council of Europe or the European Court of Human Rights.

Çavuşoğlu said, “They do not allow the burning of books of other religions, but when it comes to the Holy Qur’an and hostility to Islam, they immediately invoke freedom of thought and expression.”

He pointed out that this despicable act is expected to be carried out today at around 16:00 or 17:00 Turkish time, expressing his hope that the Swedish authorities will take the necessary measures at the last moments and prevent the occurrence of this act, which involves racism and hate crime and would cause anger in the entire world.

The Swedish authorities allowed the leader of the far-right Danish “hard line” party, Rasmus Paludan, to burn a copy of the Holy Qur’an in front of the Turkish embassy building in Stockholm.

The Stockholm Police Department said on Friday that Paludan had obtained permission to organize a demonstration near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm (today) on Saturday.