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UK denies entry to far-right Danish activist who planned 'to burn Quran'

UK government said Rasmus Paludan was added to the warnings index and his trip would not be conducive to the public good
Rasmus Paluden, a far-right Danish-Swedish political activist, plans to burn the Muslim holy book in England (Screengrab)
Rasmus Paluden, a far-right Danish-Swedish political activist, plans to burn the Muslim holy book in Wakefield, West Yorkshire (Screengrab)

The UK government said it denies entry to the far-right Danish-Swedish political activist Rasmus Paludan, who said he plans to burn the Quran in a public square in the English town of Wakefield this week.

Wakefield Labour MP Simon Lightwood asked the Home Office Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat if the UK government will prevent Paludan from entering the country during a session in parliament on Monday.

"Far-right Islamophobic Danish politician Rasmus Paludan said he's going to travel from Denmark to Wakefield for the sole purpose of burning a Quran in a public place," Lightwood said at the House of Commons.

"Mr Paludan was previously jailed in Denmark for his hateful and racist statements. He's a dangerous man that should not be allowed into this country. Can the home secretary assure me and my community that the government is taking action to prevent this?" Lightwood asked.

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Tugendhat, minister of state for security, said that Paludan would be barred from entering the country.

"Now I inform the house that Mr Paludan has been added to the warnings index and therefore, his travel to the United Kingdom would not be conducive with the public good, and he will not be allowed access," Tugendhat said.

Paludan's efforts to burn the Quran would likely be considered a hate crime under UK law.

The Crown Prosecution Service guidelines describe a hate crime as: "Any incident/crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race."

Video message

On Sunday, Paludan said in a video message on Twitter that he was travelling to the UK to publicly "burn the Quran" next on Wednesday, 22 March, which coincides with the first day of Ramadan for millions of Muslims.

Paludan said he would be committing the act in retaliation for the suspension of a schoolboy from Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, who he said had been targeted following an incident involving the Quran.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old autistic student "accidentally" dropped a copy of the Quran at Kettlethorpe High School, causing "slight damage" and scuffing to the pages.

The police who investigated said it was a "non-crime hate incident"; the boy's mother apologised, and he returned to school after suspension.

Paludan founded a fringe far-right party, Stram Kurs (Hard Line), in 2017, which failed to pass the threshold for winning seats in the general election in Denmark in 2019 and did not win any council seats in local polls in 2017.

Sweden: The Quran burning incident is hate speech, not free speech
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Stram Kurs appears to be a one-person party, almost exclusively associated with Paludan, known for his anti-Islam and anti-immigration views.

Despite becoming a Swedish citizen in October, he was previously banned from entering Sweden in 2020 for his view on Islam and non-European migration.

He is known for being a serial burner of the Quran and was assigned constant police protection since June 2020 after an assault attempt against him in Denmark.

In January, Paludan obtained permission to stage a demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm to "burn the Quran". 

Paludan set fire to the holy book with a lighter following a long diatribe of almost an hour in which he attacked Islam and immigration in Sweden. 

"If you don't think there should be freedom of expression, you have to live somewhere else," he said. 

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said that Paludan's Islamophobic provocations were appalling. The incident caused a diplomatic rift with Turkey, which cancelled the Swedish defence minister's planned visit to Ankara.

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