STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT- It is a crime to deliberately offend religious beliefs, the Russian leader said Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the burning of the Koran, promising to protect Muslims from hate.
“[The Koran] is holy to Muslims,” Putin said during his trip to Russia’s Muslim-majority region of Dagestan on Wednesday. “We know that in other countries they act differently, they don’t respect the religious sentiments of people, and say that it is not a crime [to attack one’s religious beliefs].”
Putin noted that deliberately offending and mocking religious beliefs falls under Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, which deals with incitement to hatred.
“It is a crime to incite religious hate,” the Russian leader said. “We will always abide by these legal rules.”
There have been several cases of activists publicly tearing pages out of the Koran and setting the book on fire, most notably in Nordic countries. On Wednesday, a Swedish court allowed the Koran to be burned outside of a mosque in Stockholm on Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday.
The burning of the Koran in countries such as Sweden and Norway has led to protests by Muslims at home and abroad. The authorities in these states usually condemn the acts themselves, but argue that they are protected under freedom of expression laws.