A Mutual Suspicion Grows in DenmarkA Mutual Suspicion Grows in Denmark
Hate screeds are rattling against this Scandinavian nation's aura of serenity. A Muslim publisher with suspected ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network was recently jailed for allegedly inciting jihad and distributing videotapes of beheadings. A right-wing radio host reacted by saying that Muslims should be expelled from Western Europe, "or you exterminate the fanatical Muslims, which would mean killing a substantial population of Muslim immigrants." In a society that prides itself on racial parity, voters have elevated the xenophobic Danish People's Party from the fringes to the country's third most powerful political bloc. "I believe integrating a large number of Muslims can't be done. It's an illusion," said Martin Henriksen, a 25-year-old legislator for the People's Party. "They don't have the desire to blend in with other people. We've been a Christian country for 1,000 years and we are the oldest monarchy in the world. I want to get married and have a lot of kids who can walk around in a society not influenced by Muslims." This attitude mirrors growing cultural strains, anxiety over possible terrorist attacks and the Danish People's Party's frequent criticisms of the 200,000 Muslims among the nation's 5.4 million people. The tilt to the right is starkly seen in the number of asylum applications the government has approved: 53% in 2001 and 10% last year.
Across town in a neighborhood of fast-food shawarma stands and veiled women, Fadi Abdul Latif, the spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in Denmark. "This is the Europe of the Middle Ages," said Abdul Latif, a Palestinian born in a Lebanese refugee camp who moved here years ago. "When others want to force their values on Muslims, we must reject this. We neither want to assimilate nor isolate. We want to keep our identity and carry our message of Islam to others. But Europe is using the climate of war and terrorism to force assimilation." Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate and expel Western influences from Muslim nations. In 2002, Abdul Latif was charged with distributing hate literature that revered suicide bombers as martyrs and quoted a verse from the Koran: "And kill them from wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out." He received a 60-day suspended sentence.
"Twenty-five percent of all children in Copenhagen and more than 10% of all children in Denmark are being born to non-Danish mothers. What is happening is a gradual scooping out of the Danish population," Mogens Camre, a member of the Danish People's Party and the European Parliament, said last year. "Islam is threatening our future…. That faith belongs to a dark past, and its political aims are as destructive as Nazism was." Henriksen, a fresh-faced carpenter who was elected as a lawmaker in February, supports tougher anti-immigration measures and attributes his party's popularity to being a "place Danes came come with all their frustration and anger." He says his political philosophy hardened in part over his experiences in poor immigrant neighborhoods. He said he once dated a black African Catholic and was spat at by young Muslim men who, he surmised, believed the woman to be a Muslim who should not have been in a relationship with a white Dane. "I attended a mosque to listen to what Muslims had to say," he said. "They talked about women wearing head scarves and that Muslims should only be treated by Muslim doctors. I found it an affront to Danish society. I also went to a Muslim wedding. It was grotesque. They were talking about jihad and following holy war. It made me think about what's out there."