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Pope Francis considers burning of Koran unacceptable

Pope Francis considers the recent burning of the Koran in Stockholm to be an “unacceptable” and “condemnable” event and asked that freedom of expression not be used as an “excuse to offend others”.

In an exclusive interview with the UAE’s state-run newspaper Al Ittihad, published today, the Pope states: “Allowing this [burning of the Koran] is unacceptable and condemnable (…). Freedom of expression should not be used as an excuse to offend others (…). Our mission is to transform the religious sense into cooperation, fraternity and tangible works of good”, he said.

In the interview, the Pope referred to the document Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence, which he signed in February 2019 with the sheikh of the most important institution of Sunni Islam (Al Azhar), Ahmed al Tayeb, during his visit to the United Arab Emirates.

“Now we need peace builders, not weapons manufacturers, not conflict instigators (…). We need firefighters, not arsonists, we need advocates of reconciliation, not those who threaten destruction, ”he said.

According to the newspaper, the Pope added: “Either the civilization of fraternity or retrograde enmity (…). Either we build the future together or there is no future.”

On June 28, the first day of the celebration of Eid al Adha, a man of Iraqi origin burned pages of a copy of the holy book in front of the Grand Mosque in Stockholm, during a demonstration authorized by the Swedish authorities which was attended by about of 200 people.

This act was popularly and officially condemned in the Arab and Islamic world and countries such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates called the Swedish ambassadors of their respective countries.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abulgueit blamed Sweden for allowing the act and warned it of the “results and consequences of this heinous incident”.

On Sunday, Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the burning of the Koran pages, calling it “Islamophobia”.

In a statement, the Government stressed that “Islamophobic acts committed during the protests in Sweden may be offensive to Muslims”.

Thus, he “strongly condemned” what happened, noting that the incidents in question do not reflect the views of the executive.

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