The idea of a legal ban of the Quran, because of its incitement of hatred, violence and terrorism, may sound incredible today. But trends in recent decades would suggest that it may become a reality in the not-too-distant future.
Calcutta Quran Petition, 1985
It may be said that the modern campaign for a legal ban of the Quran started with a petition filed on 29 March, 1985 in the Calcutta High Court in West Bengal, India, asking the Government to confiscate the Quran—whether in Arabic or any other language. The petition—moved by Chandmal Chopra, advocate of Calcutta High Court, Hamangshu Kumar Chakraborthy and Sital Singh under Article 226 of the Constitution of India—asked the court to direct the State of West Bengal to declare the Quran as forfeited to the government on grounds such as below:
'In terms of Section 95 Cr P C read with Sections 153A and 295A I P C every copy of a book is liable to be forfeited to the government if the book contains words or sayings which promote, on ground of religion, disharmony, enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities or which outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India or insult the religion or religious beliefs of that class of people. This is so whether the book is classic or epic, religious or temporal, old or new.'
'For example, the Quran incites violence by saying, 'Believers! make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you' (Surah 9: ayat 123) or by saying, 'Do not yield to the unbelievers, but fight them strenuously with this Koran' (Surah 25: ayat 52) or by saying, 'If you do not fight He will punish you sternly and replace you by other men' (Surah 9: ayat 39) or by saying, 'When the sacred months are over, slay the idol-worshippers, wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them' (Surah 9: ayat 5)'.
The case was initially referred to Justice Khastgir J of the Calcutta High Court, who accepted the petition and gave directions for notice to the contending parties. Thereafter the case was mysteriously passed on to Justice Bimal Chandra Basak of the Calcutta High Court, who dismissed it on 17 May 1985, saying that “a court cannot sit in judgment on a holy book”. Later on, an appeal for reviewing the dismissal of the petition was submitted by Chandmal Chopra in the Calcutta High Court, which was again dismissed by the same judge, Bimal Chandra Basak.
This legal episode led to publication of a book entitled, The Calcutta Quran Petition, in July 1986, which was reprinted in 1987 and 1999.
Delhi Court Upholds Claim that Quran Incites Violence, 1986
Just a year later, a Delhi court upheld the essence of the Calcutta Quran Petition in a separate case. In July 1986, Indra Sain Sharma and Rajkumar Arya of a Hindu group were arrested under Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code for publishing a poster, citing 24 verses of the Quran under the caption, 'Why riots take place in the country?' They claimed that 'These verses command the believers (Muslims) to fight against followers of other faiths' and that 'so long as the verses are not removed from the Quran, riots in the country cannot be prevented'. Justice Z S Lohat, Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi, in a landmark verdict, acquitted accused on 31 July, 1986. The critical portion from his judgement read:
'It is found that the Ayats are reproduced in the same form as are translated in the said 'Quran Majeed'. In my opinion the writer by writing the above words has expressed his opinion or suggestion and at the most it can be branded as a fair criticism of what is contained in the holy book of Mohammedans'... With due regard to the holy book of 'Quran Majeed', a close perusal of the Ayats shows that the same are harmful and teach hatred and are likely to create differences between Mohammedans on one hand and the remaining communities on the other.’
German Court rejects Quran ban petition
Nearly two decades later, the Quran was brought to a German court in 2003 or 2004 requesting its ban because of its violence-inciting content. The case was dismissed on the grounds that it was a book of only historical interest.
The Qur'an reported to German police, 2006
Another effort to criminalize the Quran in Germany took place in 2006, when grass-roots activists in several states reported the Quran to the police, seeking a restriction of it distribution, because “the Quran is not just a religious and historic book, but also a political book, which is incompatible with the constitution”. The indictment was simultaneously filed in the states of Hamburg, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Bayern and probably more.
During that time, conservative politicians on several German TV talk shows had pointed out that the Quran is incompatible with the German constitution, while the Turkish-born writer and women’s rights activist Serap Cileli said on January 29, 2006 that “the Quran must be considered a historic document. It is not compatible with our constitution and Human Rights.”
The indictment quoted extensively from the Quran, including its hateful and violence-inciting verses. It appears that once again nothing came out of the petition.
In 2012, the Spanish parliament accepted a petition, demanding the ban of the Quran in Spain, filed by courageous ex-Muslim writer and film producer Imran Firasat, originally from Pakistan. Imran Firasat cited ten reasons as to why the Quran should be banned in Spain, and concluded that:
The Quran is a major threat to the free society of Spain. A book which clearly preach the messages of Jihad, killing, hate, discrimination and revenge. For that reason it can’t be compatible with the Spanish system in any sense. It is a book totally contrary to what the law and constitution of Spain say and it is inciting the hatred and violence in our country.
While a committee is supposed to look into the claims submitted in Mr. Firasat’s petition, the outcome of the review is not known yet.
Russian Court: Quran is extremist literature, 2013
The most positive outcome in the campaign to ban the Quran came from a Russian court in recent days. According to a news report in Russian news portal, NR News, the District Court of the city of Novorossiisk upheld a petition of the Novorossiysk transport Prosecutor requesting for recognizing the Holy Quran as an extremist book and for banning its dissemination in Russian language. On the verdict of the court, the report says:
according to the report on the study by the Forensic Center of the RUSSIAN MINISTRY of the INTERIOR for the Krasnodar territory, in the books there are statements that negatively evaluated a person or a group of persons on the grounds of ties to a specific religion (in particular, non-Muslims) and are saying that they are talking about the superiority of one person or group of persons in front of other people on grounds of their attitude to religion, in particular, of Muslims over non-Muslims; statements containing a positive assessment of hostilities of a group relative to another group of persons united, on the grounds of their attitude to religion, in particular, Muslims against non-Muslims; as well as the statements of encouragement, for semantic understanding calling for hostile and violent actions of one group of people against another group of persons united by religion, in particular, Muslims against non-Muslims.
Dissemination of extremist materials leads to an increase in extremist crime that endangers the national security of the State the Novorossiysk transport Prosecutor concluded based on 1. Article 45 of the code of civil procedure of the Russian Federation Prosecutor turn in court in defense of the interests of the Russian Federation.
The court ordered that the Quran be classified as extremist material under Russian Law, its further circulation in Russian language be banned, and its existing copies in Russian be destroyed. According to a Moscow Times report on 22 Sept 2013, Muslim clerics in Russia condemned the court ruling and threatened unrest and violence if the verdict was not overturned.
The Russian court’s indictment of the Quran as extremist literature and prohibition of its dissemination in Russian language is the biggest achievement in the decades-long campaign for imposing a ban on the Quran. It should also be recognized that the number of people, who recognizes the Quran as a hateful and violence-inciting book have increased many folds since the 1980s. And as Jihadi carnage in the name of Allah’s command for Jihad in the Holy Quran, such as those in a Nairobi Mall and a Pakistan Church in recent days, continue—recognition of the Quran as a violent book, dangerous for peace and stability in the world will only intensify in the years and decades to come. So, it is only a matter of time before the Quran become almost universally recognized as dangerous extremist literature that incites hatred and violence, and many countries classify it as such alongside the Hitler’s Mein Kampf, while others impose a ban on its circulation like the Russian court has ordered.