Israeli officials and Jewish leaders are pushing back after Swedish police granted a permit to someone who plans to burn a Hebrew Bible in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm this weekend.
The man reportedly applied for a permit to burn the book in response to a demonstration in June during which a Quran, the Muslim holy book, was set ablaze. The man also plans to burn a Christian Bible, the police said when they revealed the application several weeks ago.
They announced their decision to permit the display on Friday, and the demonstration is reportedly scheduled for Saturday.
“I strongly condemn the decision of the authorities in Sweden to allow the burning of a Bible book in front of the Israeli embassy in the country,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday. “The State of Israel takes very seriously this shameful decision that damages the Holy of Holies of the Jewish people. The sacred books of all religions must be respected.”
Israeli officials, including the ambassador to Sweden, have pressed Swedish officials to prevent the book-burning but have been told that Swedish law around freedom of speech includes the right to the demonstration as it is planned. They offered the same explanation for why they permitted a 37-year-old Christian Iraqi immigrant to burn and otherwise defile a Quran last month.
“We strongly condemn the decision of Swedish authorities to allow the provocative burning of holy books and texts by extremists in the country,” the European Jewish Congress said in a statement. “Provocative, racist, antisemitic and sickening acts such as these have no place in any civilized society.”
The burning of Jewish books has a particularly traumatic history in Europe, where the Nazis famously burned Jewish texts during their persecution of the continent’s Jews.