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Denmark looks to block access to online ‘terror propaganda’

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Denmark looks to block access to online ‘terror propaganda’
Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
13:07 CET+01:00
The Danish Justice Ministry on Thursday released a plan that it said would prohibit radicalization but which could lead to free speech concerns.
The ministry announced a four-point plan that includes blocking access to “websites with propaganda for terror organizations”. 
 
In a law proposal submitted to parliament, the ministry writes that decisions on blocking certain websites would be decided “by the court after a police request”.
 
Other elements of the proposal include making the dissemination of terrorist propaganda a criminal offence and forcing radicalized inmates to undergo a so-called ‘exit programme’ as a condition of their parole.
 
Radicalization in prison has been in focus since the February 2015 terror attack in Copenhagen, in which gunman Omar El-Hussein opened fire at a cultural centre, killing one, before killing a volunteer security guard at the city’s main synagogue. 
 
El-Hussein is believed to have been radicalized while in prison and the number of warnings the Danish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalforsorgen) gave about inmates suspected of having radical beliefs has exploded since his attack
 
The proposal also calls for ensuring that jihadists who have left Denmark for foreign conflicts do not receive welfare benefits. That point comes after a number of reports about foreign fighters in Syria collecting Danish unemployment benefits
 
The ministry said that the measures included in the government plan would combat the “significant threat to our free and open society [that] comes from radicalized Islamists who have been exposed to terrorist propaganda.”
 
"We must prevent vulnerable young people from becoming radicalized and supporting the vile ideology of terrorist organizations,” Justice Minister Søren Paul Poulsen said. 
 
“With the new bill, we will work to prevent the spread of propaganda. This applies both online, where it will be possible to block websites that terrorist organizations use to spread propaganda, and in prisons, where inmates must be motivated to break free from the radical environment,” he added. 
 
Domestic intelligence agency PET estimates that at least 135 people have left Denmark to take part in the Syrian conflict. Denmark is thought to have the second largest number of foreign fighters in Syria relative to its size among Western nations, after Belgium.
 

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