Frenchman on trial for burning and urinating on Qur’an

2011-04-11 14:29

Strasbourg – A Frenchman went on trial today accused of inciting racial hatred after posting an Internet video of himself burning a Qur’an and then urinating on it.

Ernesto Rojas Abbate was arrested in October after posting footage of himself wearing a devil mask and tearing pages from the Islamic holy book before setting it on fire and later urinating on it to extinguish the flames.

“I was making videos where I made fun of everything,” he told the court in the eastern city of Strasbourg. “I don’t think it’s forbidden to burn a book in one’s home.”

Prosecutors called for a fine of €1 000 (about R9 600) and a three-month suspended prison sentence for the accused. The offence carries a maximum sentence of year in jail and a fine of €45 000.

Police arrested Rojas Abbate after local Muslim leaders in Strasbourg reacted with outrage at the video made by 30-year-old from who lives in a suburb of the city.

The director of Strasbourg’s main mosque, Abdelaziz Choukri, said he alerted authorities and had spoken to the author of the video who told him he acted “in the name of freedom”.

The burning of a copy of the Qur’an by a pastor in the United States last month has sparked protests across Afghanistan that killed at least 24 people, including seven UN staff.

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