Friday 16 October 2020

Islam in Denmark

Islam is the fastest growing minority religion in Denmark. Islam entered Denmark in the 1880s but real growth of Islam came in the 1970s when students and workers from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and the former Yugoslavia. Mostly these were single male who later stayed back on account of better job prospects. Later these were allowed to bring in their families to settle down permanently. A second wave of Muslims came in the form asylum's seekers and refugees from Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia.

The Muslim population has considerably increased from 3.7% of the total Dane population in 2009 to about 5.4% in 2020. Presently there are some 313,713 Muslims living in Denmark. In addition, some ethnic Danes have converted to Islam; an estimated 2,800 Danes have converted and about seventy Danes convert every year. Authorities do not register individual religious beliefs. Muslims citizens enjoy full civil and political rights in the Danish democracy. Several Muslims are members of parliament and hold seats in municipal councils.

AS per a rough estimate, the origin of Denmark’s Muslims varies. Research suggests that 24.7 % are of Turkish origin, 12 % are of Iraqi origin, 10,8% Lebanese, 8,2% of Pakistani origin  and 7.6 % of Somali origin. Most of the Muslims are Sunni Muslims with a a sizeable Shia minority. The Danish 

Although Denmark has a Lutheran state church financed via taxes, but there is freedom of religion in Denmark and Everyone can manifest his or her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching - yet things are all not that well when it comes to racism and Islamophobia. Recently there have been anti Islam demonstrations and a growing numbers of Danish Muslims say they have faced verbal abuse, exclusion and hate crimes since mainstream political parties began adopting anti-immigrant policies previously the preserve of the far right. Almost eight out of ten Muslims living in Denmark want to make criticism of Islam illegal, according to a report from Denmark’s Ministry of Justice released called "Freedom of Speech in Denmark".

The Muslim women wearing traditional Muslim veils are often mistreated, abused and sometimes attempts are made to forcefully take off their veils. They also face restrictions at work place because of their Islamic attire. The ban on wearing garments hiding the face, including some traditional Islamic headwear such as the niqab and burqa in 2018 ignited controversy in the country and online, with some defending women's right to wear what they want and others saying that immigrants should obey the laws of their host countries. A petition to ban circumcision in the country received the 50,000 signatures required for a vote in parliament.
Manilla Ghafuri, 26, who came to Denmark from Afghanistan in 2001 as a refugee, fears that anti-Muslim attitudes could harden further in days to come. She says she has more than once been told to go back to her “own country” and has been kicked out of a supermarket while shopping with her family. While she was working at a bakery a male customer refused to be served by her. “I asked if I could help him, but he didn’t look at me at all. He just stood and waited for another girl who is an ethnic Danish girl,” said Ghafuri, who also works as a teacher and has a degree in Danish.[6]
The Grand Mosque of Copenhagen in Copenhagen is one of the largest mosques in Denmark.        [Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Author: Morten Haagensen

Muslims have to brave out the negativities of the hostile Danish right parties and population. Denmark’s immigration minister in 2018  had suggested that Muslims fasting for Ramadan should stay home from work “to avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society,” and called Fasting Muslims ‘a Danger’ in Ramadan. [7] A survey i 2016 concluded that one in three Danes believe that the country is at war with Islam and its adherents. Thirty three percent of Danes responded that Denmark is at war with Islam, while 56 percent disagreed with that view. Eleven percent of the 1,045 respondents answered that they did not know. [8]

Despite all odds, Muslims continue to play a role in shaping its social and religious landscape. There are 22 approved Islamic communities in Denmark. Members of approved religious communities may obtain the right to deduct their financial contributions to a religious community from their taxable income. An estimated 20%-25% of Muslims in Denmark (roughly 44,400-55,400 persons) are affiliated with a mosque association. According to a study conducted in 2006, there are around 115 mosques in Denmark.

Halal slaughter is permitted in Denmark. Halal food is widely available and Denmark is a major exporter of Halal meat to the Arab world. Sections within fifteen existing municipal cemeteries (all Christian consecrated) have been reserved for Muslim use since 1975. Religious groups also have the right to acquire land for the purpose of establishing a burial site. In 2006 a Muslim cemetery owned by the Danish Islamic Burial Fund was established near Copenhagen.

Religious education in public primary and secondary schools in Denmark is focused on ‘Christian studies’ with the addition of elements about other religions including Islam. Islamic studies are offered as part of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies programmes and at the departments of religious studies at the universities of Aarhus, Copenhagen and Southern Denmark. 

Disclaimer: The data for this post has been collected from the references as given below. If any one differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

To know more about life of Muslims in other non Muslim countries, please visit our page: Islam and Life of Muslims in Non Muslim Countries

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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