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Danish PM vows to take on radical imams

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Imam Abu Bilal at Aarhus's Grimhøj Mosque. Photo: Brian Rasmussen/Scanpix
15:47 CET+01:00
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said on Tuesday that he will convene MPs from across the political spectrum to discuss Islamic extremism following a string of controversial comments from religious leaders.

The recent TV2 documentary ‘Mosques behind the veil' (Moskeerne bag sløret) has created a heated debate across Denmark that on Tuesday reached the highest level of government, with the PM saying he would work with parliament to find a way to combat extreme religious views.  

The documentary from broadcaster TV2 showed hidden camera footage from inside Denmark's eight largest mosques, including clips showing imams condoning the stoning of adulterers and calling on parents to physically punish children who do not pray.

The PM said in parliament on Tuesday that he will ask the leaders of all political parties to band together to try and find a solution to extremism in Denmark.

“Immediately after Easter, I will invite party leaders to a meeting at the prime minister's office to begin discussions with Church Minister Bertel Haarder and Integration Minister Inger Støjberg and other relevant ministers to find solutions that work,” Løkke said, according to broadcaster DR.

"We are fundamentally challenged by those who abuse and undermine the freedoms that have been built over generations," he said. 

Rasmussen said that he wants to see if there are solutions within the constitution that would allow the government to have more control over what is said by religious leaders without violating their rights to free speech and assembly. One possible solution he floated was creating tougher rules for the establishment of religious societies. 

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“There need to be solutions that allow us to disavow those who attempt to limit our freedoms and take a hard line against those who basically want to challenge the free society we all know and love,” he continued.

There have been numerous unsuccessful political attempts to close down controversial mosques in the past, particularly the Grimhøj Mosque in Aarhus, which made international headlines in September 2014 after declaring its support for the terrorist group Isis. In January 2015, the mosques' chairman doubled down on the comments, saying “we want the Islamic State to come out on top. We want an Islamic state in the world.”

Although the mosque has continued to operate despite the negative attention, the recent TV2 programme has once again brought the issue to the forefront. This time, there may be political consensus to take action, as Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen told DR that her party is ready to negotiate with Rasmussen on the issue.
 
“We have parallel societies in which religious leaders believe they have a stronger voice than our constitution and human rights. We must stand up against them," she said.

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