For a long, the United States and a few European states like Holland, Switzerland, France and Austria have been tolerating Islamophobic demonstrations, films and literature aiming to vilify the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Quran, despite knowing that such wilfully, planned and officially sponsored acts offend over a billion Muslims globally.
Furthermore, the repeated calls for burning the Holy Quran on the pretext of “secular Western values” such as individual liberty and freedoms are now state-sponsored in some European nations. The latest example of this is the leader of the far-right Danish Hard Line party Rasmus Paludan burning the Holy Quran once again with the government's permission in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday.
Paludan had burned the Holy Quran before and the incident led to widespread unrest and riots across Sweden.
These kinds of incidents clearly reveal that Europe has no respect for Islam or its followers. In contrast, many European governments discourage naked women protesters, arrest and punish those attacking royals, and imprison and fire journalists for speaking the truth. Obviously, the hundreds of such examples cannot be included in this short piece. The point is that anything that hurts European royals, disagrees with Europe’s official narrative of events and such issues would be banned or halted on the pretext of national security, but it is fine to hurt millions of Muslims by insulting their faith. Isn't this tantamount to crystal-clear double standards?
Such attempts on an official level endorsed anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment and suggest that it is a regular practice to vilify and demonize Islam and its teachings. For example, the U.S. troops burning of the Quran in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan gives strength to people like American anti-Islamic right-wing activist Pastor Terry Jones and other members of “the lunatic fringe.”
Not so surprisingly, American soldiers have escaped criminal prosecution over two separate incidents of burning the Quran.
Imagine if U.S. troops could dare to burn any religious sculpture, not just a book. What would be their punishment? Recall, Sherry Blair’s midnight apology over her remarks about Palestinian suicide bombers and the firing of dozens of journalists in the U.S. and Europe over their comments on Jews and Israel. While Jews and other religious groups are protected by state laws, Muslims are easy targets of religious hatred.
The point is clear: What can be done to halt such events in the future? What pushes a handful of people to go that far to spread hate toward Muslims?
A long list of leading historians and scholars agree that “the Quran is the word of Allah.” The incomparable distinction of the Quran is that it is the word of Allah (God). Ph.D. student in Islamic thought Firas Alkhateeb in his article entitled “How the Quran is protected from any change, corruption?” flocked to reliable sources to affirm, “Allah has promised to protect the Quran from the change and error that happened to earlier holy texts.” Correspondingly, in the Holy Quran Allah says, “Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (Surah Al-Hijr: 9).
Evidently, the early Islamic scientists and scholars were also saints and their scientific knowledge and discoveries are rooted in the Quran and hadith. This shows how the Quran remains still relevant and it serves as a guidebook to all humankind.
A thorough study of the Holy Quran reveals prophecies and miraculous scientific facts, saying: “We're all fulfilled exactly as they were foretold, for example, the Persians defeated the Byzantines in one of their battles. The Byzantines have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious within ten years.” (Surah Ar-Rum: 2-4).
Evidently, another distinction of the Quran is millions upon millions of people have committed it to memory and know it by heart. This ongoing process aligns with the fact that the Quran will remain protected and safe.
The past and recent history of Europe is a testament to how Islamic scholarly knowledge has been ransacked, plagiarized and linked with extremism, radicalization and terrorism to justify its illegal wars in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Over the past several decades, in some sections of the Western media, polity, public bodies and self-appointed religious figures have often used crafted discourse, cherry-picked practices and mistranslated religious texts to attack religious communities, particularly European Muslims who are victims of hate-filled speech, verbal abuse and physical attacks.
Manifestly, some recent reports confirm that “governments legalize Islamophobia in Europe,” which has “worsened” in recent years. Worryingly, Quran has become a victim of ill-informed, hate-filled, attention-seeking bigots who justify burning the holy by associating its text with extremism, radicalization and terrorism.
The purpose of systematically manufacturing discourses through media, literature, films and dramas is to shape public opinion. The daily information diet is skilfully designed and presented to the public through 24/7 news bulletins so they will believe "official" versions of stories.
Even liberal newspapers like The Guardian used out-of-context verses of the Holy Quran in their numerous articles in the wake of the July 7, 2005, London bombings. Relatively speaking, terrorist organizations like Daesh have also “twisted Islam to legitimate barbarity” and this is how Islam has become a victim of deliberate misreporting and misinterpretations.
American Author Jack G. Shaheen, in his book "Reel Bad Arabs," describes how Hollywood vilifies Muslims and presents chronological records of depicting Muslims as bad guys, terrorists, radicals, extremists, hijab-wearing women, bearded men and children reading the Quran in mosques and madrassas who are “ready to kill non-Muslims."
U.K.-based writer and editor Steve Rose also argued that, “Hollywood’s pervasive Islamophobia is already a big part of the problem.” Correspondingly, the media and films established links between the Quran and terrorist groups like Daesh to suggest that terrorists are inspired by Islamic teachings mentioned in the holy book.
Journalist Audrey Courty and academic Halim Rane rightly asked, “Why the media needs to be more responsible for how it links Islam and Islamist terrorism?”
In the holy Quran, Jews and Christians are presented as “people of the book,” professor Philip C. Almond said, “Despite differences, Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”
Thus, the Quran endorses brotherhood as God himself says that, “He is the Lord of Humankind and not only Muslims.”
Evidently, for a long time authoritarian governments, oppressive regimes, dictators, radicals and extremist groups have been involved in burning books mainly to impose their own manufactured forms of thinking and to extend their repressive rules.
In theory, Europe marked itself as enlightened, modern and a custodian of modern knowledge and scientific discoveries but in practice, the European governments have a track record as adversaries of free-thinking and liberal ideas.
In an article, columnist Helmut Sorge cited prominent German author Heinrich Heine, who stated in his famous play "Almansor" that, “Where books are burned in the end people will burn.” Sorge explores the reasons behind the book burning and supports his point by borrowing American professor Sarah Churchwell’s quote, “Books are the enemies of totalitarians.”
British politician Kenneth Baker’s book "On the Burning of Books: How Flames Fail to Destroy the Written Words?" and Duncan White’s book "The Authoritarian’s Worst Fear" recorded a series of book-burning events globally.
In Nazi Germany, book burnings were “part of a desperate attempt to retrospectively recreate a society and culture that only ever existed in the twisted imaginations of psychopaths, racists, anti-Semites, bigots and white supremacists.” The trend spans from infamous Daesh terrorists in Iraq to Serbs in Sarajevo who destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts.
Throughout history, invaders have destroyed treasures of knowledge. For example, British freelance journalist Tom Westcott revealed, when Mongols invaded Baghdad in 1258, “They burned the libraries and threw so many books into River Tigris that the water ran black from the ink.” The U.S. invasion of Iraq led to “widespread destruction and looting” in libraries in Baghdad, which became known as a “national disaster beyond imagination.”
Since the early Muslim rule, Iraq's Baghdad became the “center of the scientific world” and in the ninth century, it was the “House of Wisdom.”
Professor Jim Al-Khalili traveled to ancient Muslim lands to produce a documentary “Science and Islam,” which serves as a complete guide to scientific knowledge and discovery and how it is still related, valid, referred to and significantly used in modern scientific research.
Iraq is one of the prominent examples of the Western antipathy toward scientific knowledge and innovation in the Muslim lands founded on Islamic teachings. Relatedly, book burning is not a new phenomenon, but the Quran burning is a recent occurrence. So what can be done to halt this malpractice? If European authorities are keen to protect Muslims, the only way forward is to protect them with laws.