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EU condemns burning of Quran in Stockholm, defends freedom of expression

Yet, the European Union defended freedom of expression

BRUSSELS, July 1. /TASS/. The European Union condemned the recent burning of a Quran in Stockholm, but defended freedom of expression, according to a statement released by the European External Action Service on Saturday.

"The EU joins the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its strong rejection of the burning of a Quran by an individual in Sweden. This act in no way reflects the opinions of the European Union," the statement said. "Burning the Quran or any other Holy Book is offensive, and disrespectful and a clear act of provocation. Manifestations of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Europe."

Yet, the EU defended freedom of expression.

"The EU continues to stand up for freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, abroad and at home," the statement said. "Now is the time to stand together for mutual understanding and respect and to prevent any further escalation."

The burning of the Quran took place during a police-authorized demonstration in Stockholm’s Medborgarplatsen Square on Wednesday. Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi immigrant, tore pages from the Quran and set it on fire. It happened on the day when Muslims around the world were celebrating Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s major religious holidays.