Dutch Pegida leader tears up Quran outside Turkish embassy in The Hague
Pegida leader Edwin Wagensveld tore up a copy of the Quran during a protest outside the Turkish embassy in The Hague on Friday evening. Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz said earlier in the day that Wagensveld should take into consideration that destroying or burning a copy of the Quran can lead to an increased terror threat, as it did in Sweden.
A police officer then picked up the Quran. The road on which the embassy is located, the Prinsessegracht, was closed for some time.
There were also counter-demonstrators present, who shouted "shame on you" and tried to reach Wagensveld. Rocks were also thrown. Wagensveld eventually left the area, but during the demonstration he directed comments, like, "You don't belong here," to the Turkish embassy. He also said, "Your Erdogan is the son of a whore."
The Mayor of The Hague, Jan van Zanen, already stated that he distances himself from behavior that does not contribute to "a respectful and inclusive city," such as "unnecessarily provoking people and deliberately hurting them."
At the same time, he said that freedom of expression and demonstration are constitutionally enshrined rights in the Netherlands. Yesilgöz said that she "personally finds destroying or burning a book rather primitive and sad," but added, "it's allowed in our country. You have that freedom."
Wagensveld has previously torn up a copy of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, which led to protest. The leader of the Dutch branch of anti-Islam movement Pegida has yet to appear in court for hate speech, for saying, that the Quran "is a fascist book" when he tore it up.
On Thursday, Sweden's security service raised the terror threat level in the country to its second highest level. According to Swedish media, the threat increased due to the incidents where the Quran was set on fire in the country, and the anger that has since arisen in Islamic countries.
Reporting by ANP