The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the Dutch envoy in Türkiye’s capital Ankara after the leader of an Islamophobic far-right group desecrated Islam’s holy book, the Quran, the second such instance that took place in Western Europe this week that threatens to deepen the strain with the broader Muslim world.
“We condemn in the strongest terms a despicable anti-Muslim act against our holy book – the Holy Quran – on January 22,” the ministry said in a statement.
Stressing that the incident, occurring for the second time in the Netherlands after Sweden, insults Türkiye’s sacred values and constitutes “a hate crime.” The ministry declared: “This act is the blatant proof that Islamophobia, discrimination and xenophobia know no bounds in Europe. These acts target not only Muslims but the fundamental rights and freedoms, spiritual values of the whole of humanity, as well as social tolerance. Furthermore, it harms the culture of peaceful coexistence.”
“The Dutch ambassador to Ankara has been summoned to the ministry and he was conveyed in strongest terms that Türkiye condemns and protests this vile and despicable act,” the statement noted.
Envoy Joep Wijnands was also told, “Türkiye demands the Netherlands not allow such provocative acts and urges Dutch authorities to take the necessary actions relating to the incident.”
“We expect they will implement concrete measures in order to prevent a repeat of such incidents,” the statement noted.
Ankara’s rebuke comes a day after Dutch politician Edwin Wagensveld, the head of the far-right PEGIDA, tore pages out of the holy book before setting them on fire in front of the parliamentary building in the Hague.
A video posted on his social media accounts showed Wagensveld claiming he received permission from local authorities for “the destruction of the Quran.”
Türkiye’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesperson Ömer Çelik denounced the incident as “an attack on the Quran” and said, “Fascists threaten all religions and all humanitarian values. These things must be fought in unison.”
He argued crimes committed against humanity in European cities challenged humanitarian values, “which is a threat to all European democracies.”
“Dutch authorities must take a clear stance against this fascist attack,” he declared.
Wagensveld was arrested on two previous occasions, on counts of anti-Muslim activities, as recently as last October, and during another rally with a small group of PEGIDA supporters in Rotterdam where he had once again attempted to torch the Quran.
His provocation followed another Islamophobic protest on Saturday in Sweden, where a Danish extremist burned a copy of the holy book in a police-approved demonstration.
The Muslim community worldwide has been outraged since the weekend at anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, who staged his provocative demonstration in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm while delivering a hate-filled speech, and the Swedish authorities who allowed him under the guise of “freedom of expression.”
Rising Islamophobia and related hate crimes are an increasingly alarming trend in Europe, with recent reports indicating anti-Muslim sentiments have reached an almost tipping point in the old continent as several countries enact policies that contribute to the institutionalization of the issue.
Turkish officials have long criticized their Western counterparts for remaining indifferent and fueling far-right ideologies, especially in countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany hosting sizable Muslim populations.
Most experts attribute the persistence of anti-Muslim racism to “declining liberal democracy” and governments “investing less in the fight against Islamophobia” and even “normalizing” the rhetoric.
Last week’s demonstrations in Sweden and the Netherlands, apart from sparking protests denouncing the widespread tolerance of such hate crimes, have also raised concerns of Islamophobic incidents in Europe could increase if not curbed at the stem.