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Rapper defends Ramadan song for Danish national songbook

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Rapper defends Ramadan song for Danish national songbook
Isam Bachiri said the song reflected the reality of life in Denmark. Photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix
13:09 CEST+02:00
The musician behind the song 'Ramadan in Copenhagen' has defended its possible inclusion in Denmark's national songbook, accusing critics of "some kind of identity crisis".
Isam Bachiri, who made his name rapping with the 1990s hip-hop group Outlandish, told the Berlingske newspaper of his bemusement at the reaction against the song, which he co-wrote for the coming edition of the Højskolesangbogen (High School song book). 
 
"I'm surprised that it can get anyone's 'piss on the boil'," he said. "If a song can shake your faith or your national identity, you must be having some kind of identity crisis. It's a song, it's culture. I'm painting a picture of what our country looks like." 
 
The book has become an integral part of Danish life since it was first published in by Denmark's folk high school movement in 1894, bringing together the country's song tradition. With 450,000 copies sold since 2006, it is the country's bestselling book. 
 
When news of the Ramadan song's possible inclusion first leaked out, the anti-immigration Danish People's Party posted a critical post on its Facebook page. 
 
"No, no, no! A Ramadan song doesn't belong in the Danish Højskolesangbog. Do you agree? Yes or no?" reads the post, which was shared 265 times. 
 
"It would be a violent break with the tradition of the song book to incorporate a song with such a narrow and in reality political message," complained the party's culture secretary Alex Ahrendtsen.
 
Henrik Dahl, from the libertarian Liberal Alliance party attacking the song book's committee for "ideological signalling of multiculti views", saying the song's inclusion was "an expression of the college's comic self-understanding". 
 
Bachiri, whose parents came from Morocco, said he had written the song while he was at a seminar organised by the songbook, bringing together 30 songwriters, composers and lyricists. 
 
As he was himself fasting at the time, he included that in the song. 
 
The collection, which comprises around 600 songs, was last renewed in 2006 and the publishers are currently working on a new edition which will add around 150 songs. 
 
Niels Glahn, the General Secretary of Denmark's Folk High School movement, which comprises 70 schools teaching 300 subjects, said that it was important that the new book reflect Denmark as it is. 
 
"This is an open-minded book which will have to give space for discussion to perspectives other than the old, traditional nationalistic perspective," he said. 
 
"We welcome this discussion, but don't be Islamophobic," he said.   
 
"It's a misunderstanding that this song is selected at all at the present time," he added. "We will have to wait until the committee finish their work." 
 
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