Denmark bans six hate preachers, including five Muslims

Denmark on Tuesday published a blacklist of six foreign preachers accused of spreading hatred, including five Muslims and an American Evangelical pastor, banning them for at least two years.

Denmark bans six hate preachers, including five Muslims
Immigration minister Inger Støjberg. Photo: Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix

The list includes two Saudis, a Canadian, a Syrian, and two Americans, including pastor Terry Jones who burned copies of the Quran in 2011.

The blacklist “sends a clear signal that travelling fanatical religious preachers who try to undermine our democracy and fundamental values of freedom and human rights are not welcome in Denmark,” the immigration and integration ministry said in a statement.

The centre-right government has undertaken a systematic hunt for religious fanatics, announcing plans in May 2016 to establish a blacklist after a hidden-camera documentary exposed radical preachers in Danish mosques.

”There’s a matter of principle in saying that there are people we don’t want on Danish soil, coming here and preaching hate. We do not want people here if they are coming to incite terror or to incite assault or violence against Jews and homosexuals,” immigration minister Inger Støjberg told broadcaster DR.

“There are too many people listening to these imams that this is to a great degree directed at… it is a clear matter of principle that says that it is these kind of people we don’t want within our borders,” she said.

Parliament broadly approved the plan.

In 2015, a young Dane of Palestinian origin who was radicalised in prison killed two people in twin attacks in Copenhagen, first gunning down a Danish filmmaker at a debate on Islam and free speech, then killing a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue.

The same year, a Moroccan man was stripped of his Danish citizenship, acquired in 1988, for having spread books written by a cleric with close ties to Al-Qaeda.

The Scandinavian country was also the target of Muslim anger and violence worldwide after Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Jacob Mchangama, director of thinktank Justitia, told news agency Ritzau that he thought the ministry’s list could lead to a “slippery slope”.

Pastor Terry Jones speaks to the media in Gainesville, Florida in this file photo from 2010. Photo: Scott Audette/Reuters/Scanpix

“There are six people on the list, but one of them is Terry Jones, an American pastor who burned the Quran. This shows that a person can be put on the list by doing something that would be in breach of the blasphemy paragraph if it happened in Denmark. I think that is quite far-reaching and shows that this can develop in an unpredictable manner,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark criticised for restricting freedom of religion

The full list can of banned preachers, which can be viewed on the Danish foreign ministry website, includes the following names: 

Mohamad bin Abd al Rahman bin Milhi bin Mohamad al Arefe
Kamal El-Mekki
Bilal Philips
Terry Dale Jones
Salman Bin Fahad Alodah
Mohammad Rateb Abdalah Al-Nabulsi.


EXPLAINED: What is Denmark’s proposed ‘epidemic law’ and why is it being criticised?

The parliamentary hearing period for a proposed new law giving the government extended powers to respond to epidemics expires today.

EXPLAINED: What is Denmark’s proposed 'epidemic law' and why is it being criticised?
People in Frederikshavn, North Jutland queue for coronavirus tests. Photo: Claus Bjørn Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The new ‘epidemic law’ (epidemilov) would replace an emergency law passed in the spring which gave the government extended powers to intervene in society in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Denmark rushes through emergency coronavirus law 

As well as enforcing quarantine measures, the existing law empowers the authorities prohibit access to public institutions, supermarkets and shops, public and private nursing homes and hospitals, and also to impose restrictions on access to public transport. 

Recent instances in which the emergency law has been used by the government to implement rules include the partial lockdown of North Jutland and enhanced national restrictions, including assembly limits and mandatory use of face masks, announced in October.

The emergency (and temporary) law from March is now up for a replacement by a new, more permanent law, which would also ensure provisions for governments to respond to future epidemics and pandemics.

The end of the hearing period for the new law means that other parties and the public have been able to study the proposed law and raise their own concerns, so the final version of the proposed law may be different from the one currently in circulation.

You can read the proposed law in full (in Danish) in its current form via the government website.

Some areas in the proposed law that have raised eyebrows include:

  • People infected with dangerous diseases can be forcibly given medical examination, hospitalised, treated and placed in isolation.
  • The Danish Health Authority would be able to define groups of people who must be vaccinated in order to contain and eliminate a dangerous disease.
  • People who refuse the above can – in some situations – be coerced through physical detainment, with police allowed to assist.

Medics have voiced their concern that the proposed law will give the government too much power over healthcare, as reported today by DR.

“We think these are regulations that go too far and ought to be changed,” Camilla Rathcke, head of the Danish Medical Association, told the broadcaster, adding that such power in the hands of authorities could feel as though it was “overstepping boundaries” for individual patients.

The association believes that mandatory vaccination should be an “absolute last resort” and expressed its concern for patients’ legal rights, DR writes.

Additionally, the law leaves the decision of when a disease is dangerous enough to bring the epidemic law into use solely in the hands of the health minister. Although an advisory commission can be involved, the government does not have to follow its advice.

“We don’t suspect a minister to have bad intentions. But decisions on emergency situations need broad parliamentary support,” Anders Beich, head of the Danish College of General Practitioners, told DR.

Meanwhile, the law also enables major decisions to be made on the basis of a ‘principle of caution’, or forsigtighedsprincip, without conclusive scientific evidence. This has already occurred under the emergency law, when the government decided to cull millions of minks due to evidence – not conclusive – that a mutation of the coronavirus in the animals could risk the effectiveness of a future virus.

“The larger the intervention in public rights, the larger certainty there should be over the effect of it,” Louise Holck, director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, told DR.

A further criticism of the proposed law is that it could force businesses and organisations to hand over information about staff and members to authorities, such as information regarding individuals’ movements.

That promotes a culture of surveillance which “in no way benefits trust in society,” the Danish Council of Ethics told DR.

Rasmus Langhoff, health spokesperson with the governing Social Democrats, noted in comments to the broadcaster that the proposed law is not yet at the final draft stage.

“We are looking at the collected answers from hearings and are listening to all the concerns and suggestions for improvement,” Langhoff said.