Edwin Wagensveld was not arrested after agreeing not to burn the Islamic holy book
Edwin Wagensveld, head of the anti-Islamic group Pegida, tore down a copy of the Koran in front of the Netherlands’ House of Representatives on Sunday in The Hague, echoing a recent stunt outside the Turkish embassy in Sweden that outraged the majority-Muslim nation.
Wagensveld, who has been arrested for similar demonstrations in the past, avoided arrest this time by cooperating with a police instruction not to actually burn the Muslim holy book that he had planned to do. He also stepped on a second Quran and the torn pages from the first.
Authorities confirmed to local news outlet Regio15 that the far-right figure was left alone because he had adhered to pre-existing agreements with the city.
Wagensveld’s earlier efforts to protest the “Islamization” of Europe in The Hague were crushed before they began, and the police moved in to arrest him to prevent a planned Koran burning. He was also arrested in Rotterdam for “insulting the faith” after he was heard insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the religion itself using a megaphone, although he was not charged after it was determined that he had not committed a crime.
Earlier this week, Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden and delivered an anti-Islam monologue with police permission and protection. While Swedish authorities invoked the country’s constitutional support for freedom of expression to justify the provocative actions of Stram Kurs (Hard Line) party leaders, Türkiye was outraged.
Turkish media reported that its foreign ministry had summoned the Swedish ambassador to warn him of allowing what it called “clearly a hate crime” to continue, saying he was unwilling to accept “democratic rights” as justification for “insults to sacred values “. A Swedish flag was burned outside the country’s embassy in Ankara in retaliation.
Paludan’s stunt may have jeopardized Sweden’s chances for NATO membership, for which Turkey’s approval is needed. Ankara has for months urged Sweden to take a tougher approach against groups and individuals it considers terrorists and their “propaganda”. The government was already outraged by a recent protest in which a pro-Kurdish group burned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in effigy.