Media reports say Denmark's parliament yesterday passed a law making it illegal to burn the Quran in public places, seeking to deescalate tensions with Muslim countries after a spate of Danish protests during which Islam's holy book was burned, causing outrage.

Al Jazeera reports that the bill, which prohibits “inappropriate treatment of writings with significant religious importance for a recognized religious community”, was passed with 94 votes in favor and 77 opposed in the 179-seat Folketing on December 7.

In practical terms, it will be forbidden to burn, tear or otherwise defile holy texts publicly or in videos intended to be disseminated widely.  Those who break the law risk a fine or up to two years in prison.

Before the law takes effect, Queen Margrethe needs to formally sign it.  That is expected to happen this month.

The purpose of the law is to counter “the systematic mockery” that, among other things, has contributed to intensifying the threat of terrorism in Denmark, the Ministry of Justice said.   

Denmark and Sweden experienced a series of public protests this year in which anti-Islam activists burned or otherwise damaged copies of the Quran, sparking tensions with Muslims and triggering demands that the governments ban the practice.

Al Jazeera notes that according to national police figures, 483 book burnings or flag burnings were recorded in Denmark from July 21 to October 24.