Lazy eyes listen
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has informed his Swedish counterpart Tobias Billstrom that a planned rally on Friday involving the burning of a Torah book outside Israel’s embassy in Stockholm may have harmed the two nations’ international ties.
Cohen stated in a statement on Friday that he was “horrified by the additional threat to burn a Torah book in Sweden,” and he urged Sweden’s government to adopt steps to halt recurring threats to destroy sacred literature in the EU country.
The demonstration was canceled, according to Israel National News, and the protester instead set fire to a blank sheet of paper, which she described as a “symbol of the Swedish system that is empty of people.”
“I talked with my Swedish friend, the foreign minister, and made it clear to him that we expect the Swedish government to prevent events like this, which are liable to harm relations between our countries,” Cohen said before of the intended Torah-burning.
Israel’s opposition came after Swedish authorities approved a request on Thursday from a 50-year-old woman who said she planned to burn a religious text the next day to draw attention to alleged violations of children’s rights.
It’s unknown why she chose the Torah – the first five books of the Hebrew Bible – as the basis for her performance.
“The burning of sacred texts goes against the values of the Swedish government,” Billstrom responded to Cohen on Friday, according to Israeli news outlet Ynet News. He also stated that he will look into constitutional amendments that would make such activities illegal in the future.
Stockholm has previously stated that it does not approve of the actions but permits them to take place in order to defend citizens’ rights to free expression and protest.
The scheduled demonstration this week comes only two weeks after another incident in which a person sought permission to burn a Jewish and Christian Bible outside Israel’s embassy in Stockholm “as a symbolic gathering for the sake of free speech.”
At the time, Swedish police stated that there was a “important distinction” between allowing demonstrations and supporting the destruction of religious texts. “The police does not issue permits to burn various religious texts,” Stockholm police press officer Carina Skagerlind said earlier this month in a statement. “Permits to hold a public gathering and express an opinion are issued by the police.”
That protest, which came shortly after a copy of the Quran was burned outside Stockholm’s largest mosque in June, was also called off. The activist, Ahmad Alush, 32, told reporters at the scheduled demonstration site that his objective was not to harm Jewish or Christian sacred books, but simply to protest the burning of the Quran.