A 42-year-old man who burned a Quran and posted a video of it on Facebook has been charged with blasphemy in Denmark, a striking decision by prosecutors in a country that is largely secular but has grappled with the role of Islam in public life.
The decision stunned many Danes: No one has been convicted of blasphemy in Denmark since 1946, and the country has a long tradition of free speech; burning the flag is not a punishable crime.
Simmering tensions between religious sensitivities and free speech have been a theme in Denmark since 2005, when the newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The depictions outraged many Muslims, who consider such representations to be blasphemous.
The controversy led to deadly riots, attacks on Danish embassies in the Middle East and a trade boycott against Denmark. But Danish prosecutors at the time refused to charge the newspaper’s editors with blasphemy.
The decision to charge the Quran burner was made by a regional prosecutor in Viborg, on the Jutland peninsula…