Sweden has no plans to change hate law to ban Quran burnings, minister says

TT/The Local
TT/The Local - [email protected]
Sweden has no plans to change hate law to ban Quran burnings, minister says
Ulf Kristersson, Sweden's prime minister and Gunnar Strömmer, Sweden's justice minister, at Tuesday's press conference. Photo: Caisa Rasmussen/TT

Sweden's government says it has no plans to extend its hate law to include an explicit ban on burning or desecrating the Quran as the country's prime minister insists he is working "day and night" to remedy the crisis.


"There are no current plans to change the Law on Agitation against an Ethnic Group," Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer said.

"That would mean changing the constitutional laws on free expression and our starting point is that this should take place within the framework of today's constitutional protection for free expression." 

The focus will instead be on looking into how the Public Order Act can be adjusted to give both police and the government greater powers to block such demonstrations, particularly when there is a heightened security risk. 

One possibility, Strömmer said, would be to extend the emergency powers the government has under the Public Order Act to stop demonstrations. 

"Today it says 'in times of war or in danger of war', the question is whether risk of a terror attack should also be included."

But he conceded that changing the Public Order Act would require first launching a government inquiry, which would take at least a year to make its recommendations, meaning that the government's short-term response to the current crisis would need to be carried out using existing legislation. 

PM working night and day

In what was his first press conference since the crisis broke out at the end of June, Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson countered criticism that he had been slow to respond, saying that he and Strömmer had working "night and day" to contain the threat. "There's been no holiday here. That I can say." 

Kristersson said that he and his government were "currently in daily contact with Swedish intelligence services" about the threat of a retaliatory terror attack, noting that Sweden's Säpo security police hsa said that the Quran burnings have shifted Sweden from being a "legitimate target" for terror groups to a "priority". 

Sweden's government, he said, now plans to task police with using new extended powers to carry out stop searches at borders, search buildings and demand ID documents, so that potential terrorists would find it harder to enter the country. 

"People with a weak connection to Sweden should not be able to come to Sweden to commit crimes or act counter to Swedish security interests," Kristersson said. 


During the press conference, Kristersson came under repeated pressure to condemn the Sweden Democrat MP Richard Jomshof, who chairs the Swedish parliament's foreign policy committee, for a statement last week describing the Prophet Mohammed as a "slave-trader and bandit", among other slurs. 

While he held back from criticising the Jomshof or his statement directly, he said that everyone in Sweden had a responsibility to avoid inflaming the situation. 


"I think that all people in Sweden, Jomshof included, should think about how they express themselves," Kristersson said. "Not everything that it is legal to say is appropriate to say, especially in a situation where there is a serious security threat to Sweden."

Kristersson said it was impossible to know for certain what impact, if any, Jomshof's post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, had had. 

"But I think that everyone has a responsibility to calm down the situation and cool down the situation, rather than heat up the situation."


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also