Moshe David HaCohen
Co-Director of Amanah in Malmö, Sweden

From Eid celebration to hateful destruction

A man burned a Quran as part of a protest outside a mosque in Stockholm on Wednesday. Foto: Stefan Jerrevång/TT
As Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid Al Adha, I wish to bless them Eid Mubarak, may you have blessed celebrations with family and take care of the poor and needy properly.
The story of the sacrifice of the son of Abraham is fundamental in both Judaism and Islam. The notion of the trial of the believer, being put to the test, questions of morality, and the basic understanding of the importance of our relationship with the ONE above, beyond material goodness and welfare.
In Judaism this story is an integral part of the prayers of Rosh Hashana, as well as blowing the shofar, a ram’s horn that symbolizes the ram caught in the bush that was offered instead of Isaac. It is a fundamental story of belief that is passed on to our children at a young age.
In Islam it is celebrated during Eid al Adha, slaughtering an animal and sharing with the poor, the pinnacle of the hajj pilgrimage to the Ka’ba in Mecca, where the story traditionally occurred.
The story of the Satan coming to further test Abraham along the way exists in both traditions as well. It was fascinating for me to learn during an Amanah Beit Midrash/Madrassa, a few years ago, that the Koran does not mention that the son was Ishmael. We can choose to either fight over which son it was, or realize that the messaging that we take from this story of belief, obedience, and kindness to others is mutual.
Unfortunately and horrifically, once again we learn some hater mongers in Sweden cannot sit around and let the Muslim believers enjoy and celebrate their holiday. Earlier today the police allowed the burning of the Qur’an in front of the big Mosque in Sweden during the Eid celebration there, protecting the provocator who disgustingly wrapped the Qur’an in bacon and set it aflame.
These ongoing threats of hate and violence must be legally labeled as such and stopped by law.
The Nordic Jewish communities have earlier this year published a clear statement condemning these acts, and forewarning of the danger that lies behind them. I am glad that the Jewish Central Council in Sweden have published a statement this evening, calling it “a heinous act that we condemn”.
It is horrific how contagious these diseases are. Just last week, we learned that Jewish extremists had burned the Koran as well, in the upscale of violence and attacks in the Holy Land. The leading rabbis in Israel have condemned this, clearly stating that it is unfathomable to do this in the name of Judaism. In my opinion, these people have desecrated both the Shabbat and God’s name through their actions.
In a recent panel discussion that was held with Amanah at the Faculty of Law in Lund University, Professor Vilhelm Persson made it it clear that these acts must be labelled as hate crimes which are already considered illegal and not abuse the notion of freedom of expression. Civil Rights Defenders have filed a case under the same premises. We truly hope that Sweden follows the common logic and understanding of many democratic counties, who condemn and deny hateful acts such as these. It should be noted that this time the man was reported by the place for agitation against the public – a small step in the right direction…
We truly hope that our Muslim neighbours and friends will focus on the joy of their celebrations and the good intent of the holiday, and not give the victory to the haters by reacting and letting them destroy your festivities.
About the Author
Moshe David HaCohen is co-director of Amanah: The Muslim Jewish Partnership of Trust in Malmö, Sweden together with Imam Salahuddin Barakat, which builds trust between the communities as well as society - in order to jointly counter discrimination, antisemitism and islamophobia. Rabbi HaCohen is also director of the Nordic Beit Midrash and network of orthodox rabbis in the Scandinavian counties, as well as manager of the Scandinavian Beit Din, under its Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Michael Melchior.
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