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Dutch prosecutors investigate activist who desecrated Quran

An anti-Islam activist who tore pages out of the Quran and called it a “fascist book” in front of the Dutch parliament building in January is being investigated on suspicion of insulting Muslims, prosecutors said Friday.

The action by Edwin Wagensveld, leader of the Dutch branch of the far-right Pegida movement, and a Danish far-right activist’s burning of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm the same month sparked protests in several predominantly Muslim countries around the world.

While desecrating Islam’s holy book is not a crime in the Netherlands, prosecutors said comments that Wagensveld made while damaging the Quran amounted to an unlawful insult to the Muslim community.

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Scores of angry protesters burn the Swedish and Netherlands flags after Friday prayers outside Mohammad al-Amin Mosque to denounce the recent desecration of Islam's holy book by a far-right activists in the European countries in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2023.

Scores of angry protesters burn the Swedish and Netherlands flags after Friday prayers outside Mohammad al-Amin Mosque to denounce the recent desecration of Islam’s holy book by a far-right activists in the European countries in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

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In a written statement, the Public Prosecution Service of The Hague said his comments are suspected of breaching an article of the Dutch penal code “which states that deliberately insulting a group of people because of their religion or belief is a crime.”

The statement did not refer to Wagensveld by name, in line with Dutch privacy rules, but referred to a 54-year-old Dutch national who lives in Germany.

“The suspect will be questioned on this matter by the Dutch police,” prosecutors said.

On Twitter, Wagensveld retweeted a post by a supporter calling the action an abuse of power.

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