Police in Oslo have not authorized a Koran-burning demonstration planned by the small but noisy organization SIAN (Stop the Islamization of Norway) on Friday. SIAN activists say they plan to carry on with their demonstration anyway, right during Muslims’ religious holidays.
The police discouragement of the Koran-burning in Oslo’s Stovner district comes after days of violent protests in Sweden against another right-wing extremist’s demonstrative burning of the Koran. The demonstrations were allowed because of the extremist’s right to freedom of expression.
Norwegian police also must allow freedom of expression, but Unni Grøndahl of the Oslo Police District wrote in an email to news bureau NTB that police fear such a demonstration will seriously disturb the public peace. She stressed that police have not actually banned the Koran burning, but have pointed out that such a demonstration near both the Stovner police station and a local mosque would hinder police operations in the event they get called out on emergencies.
Police have told SIAN organizers that they will try to accommodate the demonstration at another location or time. “We have asked for a response to that but have not received an answer,” Grøndahl said.