Over the weekend Pakistan announced it has summoned Norway's ambassador to convey the Muslim country's outrage over a televised Quran burning incident in the southern Norwegian city of Kristiansand.
Similar to the controversial Florida-based pastor Terry Jones attempting to hold a Quran burning rally in 2010, this latest rally put on last week by the Stop Islamization of Norway (SIAN) had attracted a local and international media frenzy in the run-up to the event. Local reports further described that some 500 counter-demonstrators showed up, sending tensions soaring.
The head of the anti-Muslim group, Lars Thorsen, stood in front of a considerable crowd and torched the Islamic holy book, and that's when chaos ensued, with at least two Muslim men rushing Thorsen after they jumped a police barrier — all of which was captured on film and went viral.
Police could be seen subduing the attackers, and in the mayhem the burning Quran fell to the ground, after which the police used a fire extinguisher to put it out.
The filmed incident sparked angry protests in Pakistan's most populous city of Karachi, where locals burned Norwegian and American flags.
On Saturday Pakistan's foreign ministry said: “Such actions hurt the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims around the world,” the Associated Press reported.
The Ministry said further that the public burning of a Quran “could not be justified in the name of freedom of expression,” and demanded that Norwegian authorities "prevent" such attacks on Islam in the future.
Turkey is also reported to have lodged a formal diplomatic complaint with Oslo over authorities allowing the Quran burning to happen.
Meanwhile, the Muslim youth who spearheaded the attack on Thorsen, forcing the Norwegian man to drop the burning book and attempt to flee, is being hailed as a hero inside Pakistan, with even a Pakistani Army official praising him publicly for “displaying courage to stop an absolutely deplorable action,” he wrote on Twitter.
Salute to brave #Ilyas for displaying courage to stop an absolutely deplorable action. Such Islamophobia based provocations only promote hatred & extremism. All religions are and must stay respectable. Islamophbia is threat to global peace and harmony.#TheGloriousQuran#Norway pic.twitter.com/CRahq5mazf— Asif Ghafoor (@peaceforchange) November 22, 2019
Norwegian reports indicated Thorsen was taken by police for questioning, along with five others who were involved in the ensuing brawl.
Over the past years a number of right-wing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups have gained popularity and large followings in Scandinavian and northern European countries amid growing backlash against lax immigration policies among EU countries.
There's also growing frustration over the reality that as birthrates plummet among northern European populations, migrant populations from the Middle East and North Africa are exploding.