Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Burning a Quran to Manipulate Europe


The BBC reported today that a protestor in Stockholm today publicly burned a Qur'an to protest Sweden's effort to join NATO. The protestor's goal was to reinforce Turkish opposition. That goal was immediately achieved when Turkey responded by angrily cancelling the visit of the Swedish defense minister to Ankara.

Desecrating a scripture or accusing opponents of desecrating a scripture is a common tactic for gaining  political or personal advantage by inflaming public opinion. It is effective because the iconic dimension of a scripture is most easily ritualized by its believers, but can also be ritualized malevolently by anyone who gains access to a copy. My 14-year-old survey of such incidents around the world unfortunately remains relevant for understanding news like this today. See "Desecrating Scripture" at https://surface.syr.edu/.