ALGIERS – Tuesday, 01 August 2023 (APS) – The Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad, Ahmed Attaf said in an address to a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held on Monday by videoconference, that the burning of copies of the Holy Quran was “a shameless provocation against the feelings of all Muslims throughout the world.” 

“The recurrent acts of desecration and burning of copies of the Holy Quran that we have seen recently in Sweden and Denmark, without the perpetrators being worried or apprehended, constitute a shameless violation of the values of coexistence and mutual respect”, said Attaf at the 18th extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC member states, on the acts of auto-da-fé of copies of the Holy Quran in these two countries.

Algeria vigorously condemns “these reprehensible and abject acts and rejects outright the recurrent attempts to justify or cover up these infamous attacks, under the guise of freedom of expression and opinion,” continued the FM.

For Attaf, this issue calls for “collective action and a firm response commensurate with the gravity of this reprehensible and condemnable act, given its impact on our nation, which is outraged and scandalized by this attack on its values and most sacred values”.

The Minister questioned the essence of freedom of opinion and expression, which “must be exalted when it is misused to provoke the feelings of others, attack their beliefs and values, and desecrate what is most sacred to them,” and “this freedom of opinion and expression that we are asked to respect without reservation, when it is used as a pretext to rekindle hatred and feed racism, discrimination and marginalization, and to spread messages of confrontation and conflict.”

Attaf also questioned, “this freedom of opinion and expression to which we are forced to adhere, when it divides rather than unites, and stirs up hatred and animosity instead of serving the values of living together, tolerance and understanding between peoples and nations.”

He asserted that “extremism as an obligation to scrupulously comply with freedom of opinion and expression is identical to any other extremism, which cannot be used as an alibi to prevent crimes committed in its name from being punished, just as it cannot be considered as one of the vectors of democracy.”

“Irresponsible freedom of opinion and expression is far from being a freedom in itself, nor a right; it is an attack on the freedom of others and a violation of the rights of others,” he said.

Attaf said that “Our meeting today is a precious opportunity to unite our words, close our ranks and mobilize all means to defend all that is sacred to us, in the face of these blatant hostilities and vile campaigns.”

“Our organization, which defends Islam, Muslims and all that is sacred to them in the four corners of the world, is called upon, today more than ever, to mobilize and combine efforts to strike back at the enemies of living together, tolerance and dialogue who never cease to desecrate a book whose essence is made up of living together, tolerance and dialogue.”

The FM offered his heartfelt condolences to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, following the terrorist attack perpetrated on its soil, stressing that “we share with our Pakistani brothers their sorrow and pain.”