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Human Rights or national security

A TV documentary reveals radical preaching in mosques. The government responds by changing the laws concerning religious preaching.

On May 10th the Ministry of Church Affairs announced the latest move in the negotiations on changing the law to prevent radical or radicalising preachers in the Danish mosques. 

“A number of programmes on TV2 have revealed that NGO’s and religious communities in some cases work against or undermine democracy and fundamental freedom- and human rights”, the press release reads.

Six parties take part in the negotiations and they have agreed on three points of action: 

Firstly, NGO’s and religious communities working against or undermining democracy and fundamental freedom- and human rights will not be eligible for public, financial support. 

Secondly, the supervision of free schools, e.g. schools founded on certain religious values, will be tightened. 

Thirdly, the parties negotiate the government proposal to make a list of foreign extremist preachers who will be denied access to Denmark.  This list cannot apply to EU citizens who will go on an observation list in stead. The reasons for being included on the extremist list can be: 
1) Making such statements, as would be a criminal offence, had they been made in Denmark.
2) Making antidemocratic statements.

Although the negotiations include most of the parties in Parliament they have been widely criticised for various reasons. Will they conclude too fast so that they may affect other groups than intended? Will human rights be violated? Is this Muslim bashing? 

Questions are also raised as to whether the proposals make sense at all. Will they have any effect? Mogens S. Mogensen, PhD is a freelance consultant on intercultural and interreligious matters and chairperson of the Council on International Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark. He writes about the “list of extremists” on his blog

“... Finally there is the fundamental question whether the proposal – with all its problematic elements – will contribute to prevent radicalisation of Muslims. The real problematic foreign Islamists, the most efficient contributors to radicalisation, will probably stay under the radar. Even if they can be kept out of the country, they will still be able to spread extremist messages through the Internet.”

He also notes: “At the same time the proposal, which among other things will keep undemocratic hate preachers out of the country, includes elements that are democratically problematic. And this of course does not make any sense.”

The final proposal is expected by the end of May. After this it will be taken to Parliament for adoption.

By Rebekka Højmark Svenningsen