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Watch Panel Discussion on Qur'an Burnings and Freedom of Speech

The four panelists sitting on stage speaking to the audience.
Vilhelm Persson, Karin Aggestam, Karin Zackari and Oliver Scharbrodt. Photo: Linda Eitrem Holmgren

On October 9, Debatt i Lund/Debate in Lund focused on the recent Qur'an burnings in Sweden and freedom of expression. The discussion is now available to watch on YouTube.

CMES Director Karin Aggestam discussed how the Qur’an burnings in Sweden travel transnationally and go viral, and get hijacked by political leaders in the MENA region for their agendas. The digital space is thus a powerful tool.

Oliver Scharbrodt, Professor of Islamic Studies and CMES researcher, discussed the international context for the recent Qur’an burnings - a rise of right-wing populism and the perceived challenge of integrating Muslim minorities.

Professor of Public Law, Vilhelm Persson, speaks about how Sweden historically has had quite harsh laws against blasphemy that were abolished in the 1970s.

Researcher in Human Rights Karin Zackari argued that we should be careful about restricting freedom of expression and that we should be cautious of relying too much on the law. There is a need for a wider societal debate but also difficult in an unequal society.

There seems to be consensus among the panel members that

burning the Qur’an is a very un-Swedish thing to do.

Most Swedes are extremely concerned about the impact of the burnings & frustrated about how the Swedish legal system is “not tailored for burning things”.

Watch the event on YouTube

Karin Aggestam's research profile

Oliver Scharbrodt's research profile