Danish activists arrested in Belgium for plotting Qur’an burning

In August, clashes broke out in Malmo in southern Sweden when far-right provocateurs burned a Qur'an. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 November 2020

Danish activists arrested in Belgium for plotting Qur’an burning

  • Those arrested are members of “Stram Kurs” — a group led by Danish anti-Islam and anti-immigration militant Rasmus Paludan
  • Stram Kurs is known in Scandinavia for acts of provocation

BRUSSELS: Five Danish far-right activists suspected of planning to provoke Muslims in Belgium by burning a Qur'an have been arrested and ordered out of the country, officials said Thursday.
According to their group’s Facebook page, those arrested are members of “Stram Kurs” or “Hard Line” — a group led by Danish anti-Islam and anti-immigration militant Rasmus Paludan.
According to the site, Paludan himself was arrested in neighboring France and has also been expelled.
Stram Kurs is known in Scandinavia for acts of provocation and Belgian authorities believe the group planned a Qur'an burning in Molenbeek, a Brussels district with a large Moroccan population.
The alleged plan forms part of the case sent by the police to the public prosecutor’s office in Brussels, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
Sammy Mahdi, Belgium’s secretary of state for asylum and migration and himself the son of an Iraqi refugee, welcomed the five arrests.
“They were ordered to leave the country quickly, which they did,” his office said.
“The stay was refused because these men represent a serious threat to public order in Belgium. Another man was recently arrested in France for the same reason,” the statement continued.
The statement did not identify Paludan by name, but added: “Germany has also taken a similar decision with regard to this man, considered by the security services a preacher of hatred.”
In August, clashes broke out in Malmo in southern Sweden when far-right provocateurs burned a Qur'an. Residents protested by attacking the police and several officers were hurt.
Paludan, a lawyer by training who lives in Denmark, was initially expected to attend the demonstration, but Swedish authorities prevented him from entering the country.
“In our society, which is already very polarized, we don’t need people who come to spread hatred,” Mahdi said.
“I don’t care whether they are left-wing or right-wing extremists, I care about the safety of our citizens,” he added.
In a Facebook post on October 30, Paludan said he had informed the French consulate in Copenhagen of his intention to burn a Qur'an at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11.


3 funeral workers fired over Maradona coffin photos

Updated 31 sec ago

3 funeral workers fired over Maradona coffin photos

  • The images distributed across social media created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona
  • Claudio Fernández confirmed that he’d lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of soccer star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.
The images distributed across social media created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60. Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation’s presidential palace on Thursday.
Claudio Fernández confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he’d lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.
One of the images shows Fernández and his son — smiling and with thumb raised — alongside Maradona’s body in the coffin on Thursday. Medina appears in another in the same pose.
Fernández insisted that he hadn’t known they’d planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it. “It was something instantaneous. I’d just raised my head and my son did it like any kid of 18,” he told the radio station.
He said he had been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighborhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.
“They know me. I’m from the neighborhood,” Fernández said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”
The team issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Fernández from its membership rolls.