The Government of Maldives has strongly condemned the abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden.

The Quran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line. In April last year, Paludan’s announcement of a Quran burning “tour” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked riots across Sweden.

Surrounded by police, 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. About 100 people gathered nearby for a peaceful counter-demonstration.

The Maldivian government said in a statement that despite the progress made in building bridges of understanding and social cohesion, such acts of Islamophobia undermine all efforts to uphold the values of tolerance and coexistence, only serving to exacerbate hatred and extremism in our societies.

Several Arab countries – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait as well as Turkey– also denounced the Quran burning.