Syria-Turkey earthquake 'divine punishment' for Arabs 'lax response' to Quran burnings: Sadr

Syria-Turkey earthquake 'divine punishment' for Arabs 'lax response' to Quran burnings: Sadr
The firebrand Iraqi Shia Muslim cleric caused outrage by saying a massive earthquake in Turkey and Syria which killed thousands was a form of divine punishment.
2 min read
07 February, 2023
Sadr's statement drew angry responses from Twitter users [Getty/archive]

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has caused outrage by claiming the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday was due to the lax response from Arab and Muslim states to a recent Quran burning in Europe.

Sadr had earlier posted a statement sending his condolences to the Turkish and Syrian people, after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey on Monday morning.

The quake has killed at least 5,000 and flattened entire neighbourhoods.

"If Arab and Muslim countries had taken an honourable stance in defending the noble Quran…even if it was at levels such as closing the Swedish embassy in their countries or reducing diplomatic representation, God Almighty would not have sent a message (the devastating earthquake)," he wrote on Twitter.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the earthquake was "the worst" disaster the country has ever seen.

It had the same devastating effect on vast areas across northern Syria, which has already suffered from a 12-year conflict and unprecedented economic crisis.

"So for how long? How long will this distance from God, His holy books and His sanctities continue?" the firebrand cleric asked, as he denounced the "unacceptable burning of the Torah by some Muslims" in response to the Quran burning.

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Arab and Muslim countries around the world denounced the burning of the Islamic holy book last month in Stockholm by anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish dual national.

He staged protests in both Stockholm and Copenhagen outside mosques and the Turkish embassy, at a time Turkey and Sweden witnessed heightened tensions over the latter's bid to join NATO, which Ankara has so far refused to accept.

"If Muslims do not take a serious and real stand, they will not be immune from calamities, and we have seen with our own eyes the calamity that befell Europe after their legalisation of the LGBT community, but how do they feel?" Sadr added to his Twitter post, as he added quotes from the Quran.

Several Twitter users blasted Sadr for his tweet, with many considering it insensitive and nonsensical to blame God for such disasters.

"Why didn’t the earthquake happen in Sweden then? Why did it happen in Turkey, which was the first country to denounce [the Quran burning]?" one person asked.