As previously warned, the City of Copenhagen has cut off ties with the Islamic Society in Denmark (Det Islamisk Trossamfund) for its involvement with a series of controversial figures.
City officials said on November 3rd that they would give the Muslim group’s representatives 30 days to condemn controversial statements made by some of the society’s members and associates.
The Islamic Society, however, made it apparent that there would be no such condemnation by threatening the city with legal action for “defamatory claims”.
On Thursday, the Copenhagen City Council voted 30-23 to pull the plug on official collaborations, which include a number of integration and anti-radicalization projects.
The city’s deputy mayor for culture, Carl Christian Ebbesen of the Danish People’s Party, called the decision “a good initiative” and “an important break” with the group, while the city’s deputy mayor for integration, Anna Mee Allerslev of the Social Liberals (Radikale), said the council was making a mistake.
“The Islamic Society has repeatedly shown its worth and willingness to cooperate in the work against hate crimes and radicalisation. It is actually quite unique that we have such good relationships with religious organizations here in the city and we should protect that,” she told Berlingske’s Politiko ahead of Thursday’s vote.
The left-wing Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) said that the city’s severing of ties with the group will make Copenhagen less safe because the Islamic Society will no longer be able to alert officials to people who may be radicalized.
SF spokesperson Sisse Marie Welling said officials are “gambling with Copenhageners’ security”.
“It is essential that the consequences of this decision are made clear to everyone. It will mean a greater risk for terror actions in Copenhagen,” Welling told Politiko.
Among the city’s complaints with the Muslim group was its invitation earlier this year to British imam Haitham al-Haddad, who city officials say “accepts violence against women and believes that Jews are the descendants of pigs and apes”.
The Islamic Society said that those accusations were “unheard of and ungrounded” but media outlets have previously confirmed that Haddad called Jews “the enemies of God and the descendants of apes and pigs” in a 2001 sermon and a YouTube video appears to show al-Haddad justifying domestic violence as a private issue.
City officials also pointed to remarks made by Kamran Shah, a frequent presence at the society’s mosque in Copenhagen’s Nordvest district.
In a video posted to YouTube, Shah tells listeners that they face punishment from God for listening to music and watching the Danish version of X-Factor, the popular amateur singing programme.
“If you see it X-Factor, and watch it for just two to three minutes, it is haram [an Arabic term for acts forbidden in Islam, ed.] And what does it mean when we say haram ? It means God will punish you,” Kamran Shah says in the video.
As of Friday morning, the Islamic Society had not released an official reaction to the council’s decision, but according to Berlingske the group is pursuing legal action.