The viral video is from Denmark, where in 2021, a member of the political party Stram Kurs attempted to set a copy of the Quran on fire.
Protests have erupted in several countries in the Middle East after far-right Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burnt a copy of the Holy Quran in Stockholm last week. Founder of the anti-immigration party Hard Line, also called Stram Kurs, Paludan set fire to the holy book outside the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital on January 21. The incident has attracted widespread condemnation and put a strain on Swedish-Turkish ties. On the back of such developments, social media platforms have been flooded with videos of Quran-burning incidents shared with false and misleading claims.
One such video shows a young man on the street setting a book on fire with a gas torch. Three masked men soon surround the man, douse the fire, and hit him as he tries to escape. A Twitter user shared the video with a caption implying that the clip showed the recent incident in Sweden and blamed the Swedish government for allowing the "infamous #Islamophobe (Rasmus Paludan) to burn the #Quran in public." Other tweets used hashtags to connect the video to the recent incident. However, the video is of an old incident and is being passed off as footage of the January 2023 event.
Using a reverse image search, we traced the video back to March 2021. The video had been included in the news report by YouTube channel TVHBR. TVBHR, whose logo Logically had spotted in the viral video as well, had uploaded the video on March 3, 2021, with a caption in Turkish, which roughly translates to: "He tried to burn the Quran and was beaten." The description, translated to English, says that people beat up a member of the far-right political party Stram Kurs, for burning the Quran in the middle of the street in Copenhagen's Nørrebro neighborhood, which is a Muslim-majority area. The caption added that one of the passersby took the holy book from the man's hand while others beat him up.
Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Şafak had also posted the viral video on March 3, 2021 on its website as part of a news report. The report was titled: "Racist man beaten by Muslim youth after burning Quran in Denmark." Details of the incident shared in the report corroborated TVBHR’s version of the incident. While according to both reports, the man who tried to burn the Quran in the viral video was from the Stram Kurs party, its leader Paludan finds no mention in the reports. Therefore, it is clear that Paludan was not present at the site of the incident and was not the one who burnt the Quran in the viral video.
Paludan is an anti-Islam politician who has a history of burning copies of the Quran. According to Swedish national public television broadcaster SVT, he has done so on multiple occasions during demonstrations in Denmark and Sweden. In April 2022, riots broke out in several Swedish cities after Paludan held a series of protests in different locations in Sweden during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, burning a Quran at each demonstration. A CNN report said that Paludan had declared his intentions to burn more copies of the Quran.
Paludan's most recent act of burning the Quran has drawn condemnation from several countries and has also been criticized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Turkey has unequivocally denounced the act and questioned Sweden's government for allowing the protest to take place. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom has condemned the incident on Twitter, calling Islamic provocations "appalling", and said that the government does not support the opinions expressed by Paludan's and his party.
The Quran-burning incident in Stockholm comes months after Turkey blocked Sweden's bid to join the military alliance of NATO. In light of the incident, Turkey even canceled Sweden's Defence Minister's visit to Ankara to work out a solution for the Scandinavian country to join NATO. Finland and Sweden had both applied to join NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine; however, Turkey has blocked their efforts so far.
An old video from March 2021 of a man burning the Quran in Denmark is misattributed to the latest incident of Quran burning by far-right leader Rasmus Paludan in Sweden. Therefore, we mark this claim false.