Israeli officials, rabbis condemn Swedish ‘shameful’ decision to allow Torah burning outside embassy

“Damage to the sacred objects of Judaism is not freedom of speech, but antisemitism.”

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the Sweden’s “shameful” decision to allow the burning of a Torah scroll as part of a protest outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm on Saturday.

The planned burning, however, did not take place when the Muslim activist announced he had no intention of burning the Torah, saying he wanted to protest the recent burning of a Quran.

Before the planned burning, Netanyahu blasted the Swedish authorities’ decision to allow the burning of “the Jewish nation’s holiest of holies.”

“Israel views this shameful decision very seriously,” Netanyahu declared.

Earlier this month, Swedish authorities announced that they had received three new requests to publicly burn religious texts, including a Torah scroll, a week after a Quran was burnt outside a mosque in Stockholm.

It later turned out that the person requesting to burn the Torah and a copy of the New Testament was Ahmad Alush, 32, who wanted to draw attention to the burning of the Quran.

“I want to show that we have to respect each other, we live in the same society. If I burn the Torah, another the Bible, another the Quran, there will be war here. What I wanted to show is that it’s not right to do it.”

Energy Minister Yisrael Katz and Labor Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur also strongly condemned the Swedish authorities’ decision.

Katz highlighted the dangerous line between freedom of speech and religious disrespect, stating, “Freedom of speech does not include burning religious books, of any religion.” Ben-Tzur termed the decision as “offensive and despicable,” and asked the Swedish government walk back the decision.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir expressed his shock over the move. “Damage to the sacred objects of Judaism is not freedom of speech, but antisemitism,” he said, urging swift action to prevent such acts in the future.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in an interview on Swedish television, said the move was “deeply disturbing.” He emphasized that burning Judaism’s holiest text was an affront to all Jews, Israelis, and humanity at large. Bennett underscored that it was not a case of practicing free speech, but a direct display of hostility.

“The Jewish people have been around for thousands of years based on the belief in the Torah, and to have the Torah being burned in a deliberate and outlandish manner is a profound affront to every Jew in the world,” he said.

He also noted Israel’s condemnation of the burning of the Quran, also in Sweden, several weeks before, and noted that as a democracy, Israel does not permit the burning of religious texts, be it the Quran, the New Testament, or the Torah.

Israel’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef have also addressed the matter, expressing their concern to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and King Carl Gustaf XVI, respectively.

In an open letter, Rabbi Lau voiced his horror and reiterated the belief that such acts do not constitute freedom of expression but antisemitism. Rabbi Yosef echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need to uphold principles of mutual respect and dignity, regardless of community tensions.

Yosef appealed to the Swedish King’s commitment to peace, human rights, and religious freedom, requesting his intervention to prevent the burning of the Holy Bible. He stressed the importance of setting a precedent against religious intolerance, stating, “Our shared commitment to humanity transcends religious, cultural, and national boundaries, and it is through our actions that we can promote a world where respect, understanding, and acceptance thrive.”

Earlier this year, Muslim leaders in Sweden, together with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, successfully stopped a planned demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm which included the public burning of a Torah scroll.