Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

The stunt behind the Swedish request to burn a Torah

TJI Wrap
Print this
The stunt behind the Swedish request to burn a Torah

Published: 18 July 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

After gaining police permission to burn a Torah, an activist claimed he never intended to go through with the act.

Ahmed Alloush, a 32-year-old Swedish national, announced last week that he would burn books of Torah outside the Israeli embassy on Saturday.

Alloush had received police permission to burn the books, after another case in which an activist burned a Koran outside a mosque in Stockholm.

But when the gathering went ahead, Alloush announced he had never intended to burn any books.

“As a Muslim, I don’t burn books,” he said, speaking to Swedish media, explaining that his goal was simply to throw a spotlight on the Swedish laws that allow for such events to take place. 

“Nobody should be doing that,” he said, as he held a copy of the Koran in his hand. He threw to the ground a lighter he had brought with him.

The possibility of such a deeply controversial event shocked Israel and Jewish communities in Sweden and around the globe.

Israeli leaders on Friday strongly condemned the intent to burn sacred texts after Swedish police announced on Friday that it would allow the burning.

“I strongly condemn Swedish authorities’ decision to the burning of the Hebrew Bible in front of the Israeli embassy in its country,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“The State of Israel takes very seriously this shameful decision that harms the most sacred [scripture] of the Jewish people. The holy books of all religions must be respected,” Netanyahu said.

Historically, the burning of burning of Jewish books often heralded times of extreme persecution, including the Holocaust.

But a leading Swedish rabbi said he did not consider the action antisemitic.

"It is an attempt to challenge freedom of expression and exploit it for acts of hatred," said Rabbi Moshe HaCohen, who heads Amanah Muslim Jewish Partnership of Trust and worked with Muslim leaders to stop the event proceeding.

"The individual wants to see if the system is biased and whether it will permit the burning of the Bible just as it allowed the burning of the Koran. In Sweden, freedom of expression is considered a sacred value," HaCohen added.


Swedish activist backs off Bible burning in Stockholm (Ynet)

Would-be book burner admits, ‘I never had any intention of burning a Torah’ (Jerusalem Post)

Chief Sweden rabbi: 'Burning Torah not antisemitic' (Middle East Monitor)

Man who planned Hebrew Bible-burning event in Stockholm delivers speech against act instead (Haaretz)


Egypt religious officials respond to Ben-Gvir remarks on 'extremist Islam' (Middle East Monitor)
Former head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar Al-Shareef, Sheikh Abdul Hamid Al-Atrash, on Friday slammed Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir over claiming that burning the Torah in Sweden is a result of "extremist Islam".

Antisemitic, racist remarks by Finnish lawmakers spark controversy (Ynet)
Far-right Finns Party lawmakers can’t seem to catch a break as seemingly never-ending list of egregious past comments keep surfacing; “Does anyone feel like spitting on beggars and hitting n***** children today in Helsinki?”

Photo:  Ahmed Alloush, who received police permission to burn a Hebrew bible before the Israel embassy in Sweden, on Saturday (David Stavrou)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site