A man from Leeds in West Yorkshire has been released on bail after allegedly posting on social media a video that ends with him burning a copy of the Qu’ran.
The 19-year-old was arrested on Dec. 27 after people raised concerns for his safety, the Yorkshire Standard reports. Apparently the man ripped apart an English translation of the Islamic holy religious text with his teeth, put it in the toilet, and then burnt it.
The paper says he was arrested by Leeds police in Beeston in connection with an offensive video posted on a social media website and was later released on bail. It is thought the footage has been taken down and the suspect has not been named. He was arrested on suspicion of a racially or religiously aggravated public order offence.
Members of the public alerted the Yorkshire Standard about the video, which was reportedly shared at least 1,000 times and had more than 100 comments. Some were said to be death threats.
The law about burning a holy text such as the Qu’ran isn’t clear cut in the UK. In the US it is entirely legal. Accorss the pond, it’s a punishable offence under Britain’s Racial and Religious Hatred act 2006. There remains an issue of freedom of speech and ownership of material, but ultimately people could be prosecuted when there is a demonstrable advocacy of hate crime laws.
In 2011, Business Insider wrote about British National Party candidate Sion Owens, who filmed himself burning a copy of the Qu’ran. The clip was leaked to the Guardian and the man was subsequently arrested.
Then, the Home Office stated:
“The government absolutely condemns the burning of the Qur’an. It is fundamentally offensive to the values of our pluralist and tolerant society. We equally condemn any attempts to create divisions between communities and are committed to ensuring that everyone has the freedom to live their lives free from fear of targeted hostility or harassment on the grounds of a particular characteristic, such as religion.”
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