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Denmark to summon Iranian ambassador over executions

Denmark and Belgium said Sunday they would summon Iran's ambassadors after Tehran executed two men linked to protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, with fresh EU sanctions "on the table".

Denmark to summon Iranian ambassador over executions
Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said Iran's envoy to Denmark will be summoned to express the Nordic country’s condemnation of the execution of protestors. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The announcements came shortly after fellow EU nation the Netherlands announced similar action.

Iran’s envoy to Denmark will be summoned “to send him the strongest possible and imaginable message that the abuses committed against his people trigger our outrage”, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told news agency Ritzau.

The Danish foreign ministry confirmed to AFP that the meeting would take place on Monday.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib wrote on Twitter that she was “horrified” by the executions.

“Together with like-minded EU member states, we will summon the Iranian ambassador. New EU sanctions are on the table,” she said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted on Saturday that he was “appalled” and that the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands would be summoned “to underline our serious concerns”.

A fourth EU sanctions package was “already in preparation” for the 27-nation bloc’s next foreign affairs council to be held on January 23rd, he added.

Iran on Saturday announced that two men had been hanged for killing a paramilitary force member in November during unprecedented protests sparked by the death in custody of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

The executions sparked international condemnation, with the United Nations denouncing “unfair trials based on forced confessions”.

The United States said the hangings were “a key component of the regime’s effort to suppress protests”, which have shaken the Islamic republic since Amini’s death in September last year.

In December, the European Union imposed a third sanctions package against Iran over the violent crackdown on the protests.

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DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

‘More than half’ of Danes want embassy Quran burnings banned

More than half of Danes responding to a survey said they were in favour of banning far-right activist Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning demonstrations in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen, due to national security concerns.

'More than half' of Danes want embassy Quran burnings banned

Concerns over national security were a key factor in the responses to the survey, conducted by institute Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau.

More precisely, 56 percent answered in the survey that they “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement that Paludan should be banned from burning the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy due to considerations of Denmark’s security.

Some 13.3 percent answered “neither agree nor disagree”.

Just over a quarter – 25.4 percent – said they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the statement. 5.3 percent answered “don’t know”.

Paludan has said he plans to burn a Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Turkey agrees to Sweden joining NATO. A week ago, he burned the Islamic holy book in three locations in the Danish capital.

That resulted in Turkey summoning the Danish ambassador in Ankara to protest Denmark’s “unacceptable” attitude towards Paludan’s actions.

“We strongly condemn the decision to grant permission for this provocative act, which clearly constitutes a hate crime,” a Turkish diplomatic source told reporters at the time.

READ ALSO: Danish foreign minister says relationship with Turkey ‘good’ amid new Quran burnings

Far-right provocateur Paludan came to prominence in Denmark in the late 2010s through his anti-Islam demonstrations in areas with sizeable minority ethnic communities. The main feature of the demonstrations is the burning and desecration of the Quran.

He has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, upheld in 2019 by a Danish high court, and failed in a bid to be elected to the country’s parliament in the same year.

Paludan’s demonstrations in Denmark have provoked angry and sometimes violent responses from minority communities and require a heavy police presence. The demonstrations are permitted under Denmark’s laws and constitution, which protects free speech and the right to gather in public.

Police are required to use considerable resources when the demonstrations take place.

In the survey, Voxmeter asked whether police should be able to limit the constitutional free speech and assembly rights of groups or individuals if protection of those groups or individuals is expected to be at large cost to police resources.

Just under half – 47.7 percent – said they “strongly agree” or “agree”. Some 28 percent said they “strongly disagree” or “disagree”.

Before 2017, Paludan’s demonstrations could have been deemed illegal. That year, a centuries-old blasphemy law against burning religious scriptures such as the Bible or Quran was repealed.

The law should be reinstated according to 34.6 percent who responded to Voxmeter’s survey. Close to the same proportion – 31.3 percent – said they did not want it to return.

The Voxmeter survey was undertaken between Tuesday January 31st and Friday February 3rd. Some 1,039 representative persons in Denmark, aged 18 and over, took part.

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