In TIME, Jacob Mchangama explains how Denmark and Sweden’s plans to criminalize Quran burnings forebode a future in which democratic states willingly yield their fundamental principles to religious dogmatism.
“On the one hand, there are good reasons to be critical of book burnings. It is a poor substitute for reasoned debate and will forever be associated with totalitarian states, such as Nazi Germany, in our collective history. But however noxious the ideas of the far-right protestors who torch Qurans, they are not state agents, they are not speaking for the government, nor do they have the power to censor or discriminate. They are private individuals whose non-violent symbolic expressions are intended to convey a message, which however, offensive to those who disprove, is part and parcel of free expression. … For all its flaws, free speech makes the world more tolerant, democratic, equal, and free.”

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