The Government of Maldives has strongly condemned the act of desecration of the Holy Quran in front of the Embassy of Iraq in Stockholm, Sweden.
A statement published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read that this repeated and deeply disrespectful act inflicts immense pain upon the religious sentiments of millions of Muslims worldwide, and it cannot be justified under the guise of freedom of speech and expression.
Foreign Ministry stated that these appalling acts of Islamophobia undermine our collective efforts to uphold the principles of tolerance, coexistence and promote mutual respect that we strive to uphold as a global community.
The Government of Maldives urged the international community to urgently address this issue collectively and take strong measures to stop the recurrence of such acts of religious hatred against Islam.
Koran burnings are permitted in Sweden, Denmark and Norway but not in neighbouring Finland where desecration of holy scriptures in public is illegal. Sweden had a similar law but removed it in the 1970s.
Sweden has laws banning hate speech against ethnic, national and religious groups and people on grounds of sexual orientation. However, burning holy scriptures has thus far not qualified as hate speech but has been seen as acceptable criticism.
Journalist and freedom of speech expert Nils Funcke said changes to the Public Order Act as mooted by the government would be very hard to introduce and would likely clash with Sweden's constitutionally protected freedom of assembly.
A 2022 Gallup poll found that Sweden was the country in the world with the highest percentage of citizens stating they do not believe in God. Sweden abolished laws that made it punishable to criticize or mock religion and the royal family in the 1970s.
Experts and politicians has stated that there is limited political will in Sweden to ban Koran burnings that have upset large parts of the Muslim world and it would be complicated to do even if there were backing for such a move.
Sweden's laws, current politics and social traditions mean such incidents are unlikely to be halted any time soon.
Swedish courts have ruled that police cannot stop burnings of holy scriptures. While the two latest Koran burnings could be tested in court for inciting hate, it is widely believed the act is protected by the constitution's far-reaching freedom of speech laws.
To change the constitution is a lengthy process that requires a vote in parliament, then a general election, and then another vote in parliament.
Even so, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's government said last week it would examine if there was reason to change the Public Order Act to make it possible for police to stop Koran burnings, amid concerns over national security.
The issue of Koran burnings has potentially jeopardized Sweden's accession to NATO. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has previously warned that Sweden would not be accepted into the military alliance if Koran burnings took place there.
Turkey, alongside Hungary, has so far held up Sweden's bid - launched in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine - although Erdogan said earlier this month that he would send the Nordic country's NATO application to parliament.
The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation introduced a resolution that passed in the United Nations Human Rights Council on July 12 calling for states to review their laws that prevent prosecution of "religious hatred".
Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch of the Christian Democrats said earlier this month the Sweden alone determined its legislation and would not be influenced by other countries' faiths or laws.
"Sweden does not bend its back to Islamism. Burning scriptures is reprehensible but not illegal," she tweeted on July 7 after a Koran burning outside a Stockholm mosque.
Any potential law change that would make such acts illegal is also highly unlikely to pass because the minority government is dependent on the support of the Sweden Democrats, the second biggest party in parliament after last year's elections, which is anti-immigrant and critical of Islam.