Under police protection, Edwin Wagensveld, leader of the Dutch branch of the far-right extremist group “Pegida,” tore and trampled upon a Quran copy accompanied by two others in front of the Turkish embassy in The Hague.
This occurred during a counter-protest against another demonstration organized by Pegida, in which around fifty people participated.
Pegida, known as “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” originated in Germany in 2014 and has gained attention for its anti-Islam stance.
The Dutch government, led by Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius, condemned the protest but admitted its limited power to prevent such actions, reflecting the balance between freedom of expression and societal harmony.
The act underscores a pattern across Europe, where Quran desecration indicates religious intolerance. Wagensveld, facing trial for prior remarks, tore a Quran copy in front of parliament, likening it to “Mein Kampf.”
Police closed the area around the embassy as a precaution. Counter-protesters threw stones at Wagensveld, prompting police intervention.
The Netherlands’ Turkish-born Justice Minister called the act “primitive.” However, she noted the law permits such protests. Wagensveld’s past actions led to a hate speech trial.
In Europe, similar acts sparked unrest. Sweden’s raised terrorism threat level due to Quran burning, acknowledging potential extremist reactions.
The recent series of Quran burnings began in January with Danish-Swedish far-right figure Rasmus Paludan burning a Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.
He repeated the act the following week outside the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen.
The situation gained global attention in June during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, when an Iraqi individual burned a Quran outside a mosque in Copenhagen and placed a piece of bacon on it.
Since then, the incidents of Quran burning have been increasing steadily, leading to strong reactions from around the world and putting the Swedish and Danish governments in the midst of international criticism.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson remarked that the current security situation is the most serious since World War II, a sentiment he expressed after a conversation with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.