DF says that many Muslims feel intimidated into remaining in the faith. Photo: Colourbox
Danish People's Party (DF) spokesman Martin Henriksen wants to see the Danish state step in and offer help to Muslims who want to leave the religion but feel bullied into staying.
“We unfortunately have seen many examples of someone wanting to leave Islam but having a hard time doing it or not daring to do it because they fear reprisals from certain groups within the Muslim communities of Denmark. This is a way in which we can begin doing something about it,” Henriksen told Politiken.
Henriksen stressed that the programme would not be proactive but would rather only help those who reached out for assistance.
“People shouldn’t directly be offered an exit. One should make the decision oneself. And if one decides that they no longer want to be there, there should be a place to go to get support and back-up,” he told Politiken.
Henriksen added that the programme would help those who “live a double life because they don’t dare to leave the religion”.
Scorn is not illegal
There are around 250,000 Muslims in Denmark and religious scholar Mogens Mogensen said that Henriksen is right that some Muslims face heavy resistance when they want to leave the faith.
But he stressed that the state should not get involved.
"If the consequences for those who want to leave Islam are within the law, then this is not an area where society should get involved. Scorn, mockery and ridicule is legal in our society. However, if one uses violence against someone who wants to leave Islam, that is illegal. But the only place where we can document that that happens is in the asylum centres," Mogensen told Politiken.
"Grotesque" and "un-Danish"
Judging by the political reactions to Henriksen’s suggestions, an Islam exit programme seems unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon.
Representatives from government coalition parties Social Democrats and Social Liberals (Radikale) called Henriksen’s idea “grotesque” and “un-Danish”.
“We have freedom of religion in this country. And that means that politicians should not declare one religion better or worse than another. To make special initiatives aimed at particular religions is very un-Danish,” Social Democrats spokeswoman Trine Bramsen told Politiken.
Primary opposition party Venstre, however, was more open to the idea – if Henriksen can “find some money for it”.
“We should help the young people who are repressively forced to remain in an environment they don’t want to be a part of. It is precisely in these kinds of situations that the power of the state can go in and help,” Venstre spokesman Martin Geertsen told Politiken.