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Denmark may strip citizenship from imams

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Abu Bilal, controversial imam of the Grimhøj Mosque. Photo: Screen Grab/Memri TV
07:58 CET+01:00
Denmark could begin stripping citizenship from imams who preach ideas “contrary to basic Danish values”, in the latest draconian measure brought in to counter the threat of radical Islam.
The proposal, put forward by the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, is aimed specifically at removing citizenship from Abu Bilal, the outspoken imam of the Grimhøj mosque in Aarhus. 
 
It has already gained tentative backing from the ruling Liberal Party, the opposition Social Democrats and the Conservative party, meaning it is likely to win a majority in parliament. 
 
The Danish People’s Party’s immigration spokesman Martin Henriksen told the Berlingske newspaper that the Danish Constitution already allowed limits on the freedom to practice religion.   
 
“The Constitution says that anyone can practice their faith so long as it is not contrary to morals, or disturbing to the public order,” he said. 
 
“When imams endorse or recommend stoning, or when an imam tells a woman subjected to violence by her husband that that’s okay, then that constitutes, in my opinion, subversive speech that disturbs the public order.” 
 
“Some of these imams are Danish citizens, and we think we should deprive them of their citizenship,” he said.  
 
The president of the Grimhøj Mosque, Oussama El-Saadi, warned that such measures were more likely to fuel Islamic radicalisation than reduce it.  
 
“We will not solve the problem that way, but risk creating more radicalization,” he told Politiken newspaper. “I do not understand the thinking. Denmark is the best country I could possibly live in and I have no interest in destroying it.” 
 
He pointed out that Abu Bilal was a stateless Palestinian, meaning removing his Danish Citizenship would make him stateless, which would be problematic under international law. 
 
The proposals are among those being proposed by Denmark’s parties to be discussed in an upcoming set of meetings with prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen over possible measures to clamp down on radical mosques. 
 
Marcus Knuth, the Liberal Party’s immigration spokesman, said it was “a really good idea”. 
 
“You have to come down as hard as possible on these environments. You are not just talking about twisted old imams. These are the mosques that have shaped many Syrian fighters, and they can be a threat to national security.” 

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Løkke Rasmussen has called for proposals following the hard-hitting documentary on radical mosques, “The mosques behind the veil”. 
 
The Danish Prime Minister has already said that he is willing to “push the limits” of the Danish Constitution when considering proposals. 
 
The Social Democrats’ spokesman, Trine Bramsen, said that her party supported depriving imams of their citizenship in special cases. 
 
“We are open to all solutions that can stop the radicalised imams,” said Trine Bramsen.

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