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Abstract

While exploring the historical context of the burning of books during the times of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of unified China, the European Dark Ages, the colonial era, the Nazi Germany era, Iranian triumphs, and contemporary instances of the burning of literature, comics, and history, philosophy, and religious books,this paper identifies “freedom of expression” as the underlyingprinciple for the burning of holy books, an action that eventually fuels religious hatred, public disorder, and violence in society. Notwithstanding such consequences, Pastor Terry Jonesannounced an event calling for the burning of the Holy Qur’an onthe ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Simultaneously, European right-wing political and religious leaders also have pronounced hate speech against Islam, which has resulted in enraged mass protests in Muslim countries. Ironically, the UnitedStates (“U.S.”) and European (“EU”) media have provided full coverage on hate speech, which has resulted in the intensification of Islamophobia in the EU and the U.S. Articles 19 and 20 of theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”)and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights(“ECHR”), to which the U.S. and the EU have agreed, cover therights of freedom of religion; but they regard religion as a private matter and do not make state-backed interventions to prohibit any act of hate speech except insofar as it might disrupt public order and national security.

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