The Office of His Eminence, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani, communicated a letter, on the 29th of June, 2023 to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, regarding the desecration of the Holy Quran in Sweden.

Original Letter:

Translation, as sourced from


In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

To His Excellency Mr. António Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations

Greetings with respect and appreciation,

It has been reported in the media that someone in the Kingdom of Sweden desecrated a copy of the Holy Quran, intending to insult the religion of Islam.

This disgraceful behavior has occurred more than once in different countries in recent years, but it is noticeable that this time it took place with an official permit from the Swedish police, claiming that it is a requirement of respect for freedom of expression!

However, it is certain that respect for freedom of expression does not justify permitting such a shameful act, which represents a flagrant attack on the sanctity of the beliefs of more than two billion Muslims in the world and creates an environment conducive to the spread of extremist ideas and wrong practices.

The Supreme Religious authority condemns what happened and calls on the United Nations to take effective steps to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents, compel countries to reconsider legislation that allows such occurrences, and call for establishing the values ​​of peaceful coexistence between followers of different religions and intellectual backgrounds based on caring for rights and mutual respect for all.

The Office of Sayyid al-Sistani, Najaf

10 Dhu al-Hijjah, 1444 A.H



On 21st July 2023, His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the U.N., has responded to the letter of Sayyid al-Sistani.


His Eminence

Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani

Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf


Your Eminence.

I wish to thank you for your letter dated 29 June 2023 regarding acts of burning of the Qur’an.

I was deeply disturbed by the recent incident of Qur’an burning in Stockholm. Sweden, that led to protests in the Republic of Iraq during the Eid Al-Adha holidays. Allow me to express my solidarity with the Muslim community, and condemn acts of intolerance, violence and Islamophobia which exacerbate tensions and contribute to discrimination and radicalization.

I have expressed this position in my telephone call with His Excellency Mr. Fuad Mohammad Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq, on 30 June 2023. This was also reflected in the press statements issued by the Office of the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations on 29 June 2023 condemning the burning of the Qur’an in Sweden, and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 11 July 2023 at the opening of the urgent debate of the Human Rights Council on “the alarming rise in premeditated and public acts of religious hatred as manifested by recurrent desecration of the Holy Quran in some European and other countries”.

The United Nations System is determined to fully implement the Human Rights Council Resolution on “countering religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. Through its relevant bodies, the United Nations will continue to urge Member States to examine their national policies and frameworks to identify gaps that may impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that may constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

In this context, political and religious leaders have a particularly important role in speaking out firmly against manifestations of religious hatred and to make clear that peaceful dialogue is the best path to promote mutual understanding and respect, including respect for diversity, which are essential building blocks for a cohesive and resilient society.

I fully support your call for promoting a peaceful coexistence and strengthening the values of compassion. I wish to express my genuine respect and utmost admiration for your wisdom, moderate approach and consistent appeal for mutual respect and unity.

I welcome further exchanges and continued engagement with Your Eminence on these important matters of mutual concern.

Please accept, Your Eminence, the assurances of my highest consideration.


With my warmest regards


António Guterres