"Freedom of expression should be an ethical value that guarantees coexistence, and not to spread violence, hatred and collision between civilisations," said Saudi Foreign Minister

Islamic countries denounce that freedom of expression cannot "spread hatred"

The Foreign Ministers of the 57 member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met today to denounce the "repeated" burnings of copies of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark, and affirmed that freedom of expression cannot "serve as a pretext to spread hatred".

"We condemn in the strongest terms the repeated attacks on the sanctities of the Quran and confirm that such provocative acts are not acceptable under any pretext," Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said during his opening remarks at the meeting.

In this regard, the diplomat added that the burning of copies of the The Quran that have taken place in recent weeks in front of several embassies of Muslim-majority countries in Sweden and Denmark cannot be considered acts of free speech.

"Freedom of expression should be an ethical value that guarantees coexistence, not to spread violence, hatred and collision between civilisations," Bin Farhan said.

An emergency meeting of the OIC, convened at the proposal of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, began with the recitation of a verse from the The Quran that refers to coexistence between people and was held behind closed doors.

The head of Saudi diplomacy hoped that the meeting would have "fruitful results to stop these provocative acts", called on the international community to "reject anything that generates hatred and violence" and described the burning of copies of the Muslim holy book as "extremism".

He called on OIC member states to "take practical steps to resist these attacks" and to "coordinate and integrate with international parties to uphold the values of tolerance and peace and show the true image of Islam". 

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan

For his part, OIC Secretary General Husein Ibrahim Taha also expressed the need to "take measures to stop these provocative actions", and recalled that the organisation "have sent clear messages to these governments (Sweden and Denmark) to take the necessary measures to put an end to this escalation".

The leader of the Islamic organisation regretted that the Swedish and Danish authorities have allowed these acts "under the pretext of freedom of expression".

"I call on the Swedish and Danish authorities to reconsider the seriousness of provoking the feelings of Muslims around the world," said Ibrahim Taha, who assured that the OIC "will do everything possible to put an end to these acts". 

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