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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 626, 13 July 2023

Protests in Pakistan against the Quran burning in Sweden



When it comes to the Quran, the nation is one

Sandra Sajeev D Costa

On 28 June 2023, Salwan Momika, an Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden, burnt the Quran outside Stockholm's Central Mosque. On 2 July, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), including Pakistan, condemned the burning of the Quran. 
Pakistan introduced a resolution on behalf of the 57 OIC countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Pakistan is one of the countries where the government openly called for public protests against desecration. 

Protests in Pakistan vis-à-vis other Muslim countries
On 4 July, Protestors gathered at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and were led by Peshawar High Court Bar Association, Peshawar District Bar Association etc. The riots demanded that Pakistan sever its ties with Sweden. Other demonstrations included those by Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party, Ehsas Welfare Organisation activists, and Anjuman-i-Tajiran members. 
On 7 July, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced the day as “Youm-e-Taqaddus-e-Quran” (Quran Sanctity Day). On the same day, 3,000 TLP supporters marched in Karachi and held effigies draped in Swedish flags and 5000 more rallied in Karachi.
The GCC countries have limited their response to internationally condemning the incident. The majority of GCC states have not really seen any notable protests since the Arab Spring protests. This does not hold true for Pakistan as the government itself has called for demonstrations. Why are there protests in Pakistan? 

Led by the government
Even though the PM called for a unified protest, each party protested in its own way in different cities. On July 7, PM Shehbaz Sharif said: “When it comes to the Quran, the nation is one,” he wrote. “We will all protest nationwide today under the title of Quran Sanctity Day and after Friday prayers.” A similar call was also given by PTI chairman Imran Khan. With elections approaching, political parties cash on votes that can stem from psychological affiliations and sentiments.

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