Denmark wants to review the funding of mosques

“Extremist Forces from Abroad”

The social democratic government of Mette Frederiksen is speeding up legislation that reacts to massive immigration from non-Western countries. On March 15, a law came into force that is supposed to make it more difficult for mosques to be financed by foreign donors. The government was also open to innovations in naturalization laws for Muslims.

With the law that has now come into force, the social democratic government of Mette Frederiksen wants to take action against donations from people, state and private organizations that make it more difficult for Muslims to integrate in the country and at the same time undermine the validity of democracy and human rights in Denmark. Immigration and Integration Minister Matthias Tesfaye said: “There are extremist forces abroad who are trying to position our Muslim citizens against Denmark and thus drive a wedge into our society.”

With its approach on several levels, the Danish government is making it clear that it wants new immigrants as well as people who have lived in the country “for a long time” but who do not necessarily share its values ​​to adapt to the Danish way of life and to respect basic values. What comes to mind here is primarily the package of measures against “non-Western” dominated neighborhoods, but also the U-turn in asylum policy, with which return trips to Syria are made possible. The liberal-conservative opposition largely supports the government’s course on these issues, but above all approves the general direction the government has taken. One can speak of a constructive dialogue between all camps.

The procedure initiated by the new law will, however, still take some time: by the end of the year, the first proposals for the list of organizations and persons that will be created are to be collected. Proposals for this will be worked out by a special team of employees in the immigration authority and communicated to the ministry. Once an organization is on the list, annual donations will be limited to around 1350 euros. This would also tighten – or rather bring into effect – an older law from 2019 that prohibits foreign governments from supporting religious bodies in Denmark.

Danish mosques on the verge of bankruptcy despite donations of millions?

The comment by Aarhus religious researcher Lene Kühle, who is also the co-author of a book on “Mosques in Denmark”, is strange, when he claims that “the vast majority of mosques in Denmark” are already struggling with financial problems. The mosques are usually not financed from local membership fees, but are overly dependent on foreign donations. The large Rovsingsgade mosque in Copenhagen’s immigrant district Nørrebro is said to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

That is strange, because the sponsoring association of the mosque with the attached cultural center is said to have received 30 million euros in grants from the Gulf States in the past decade. The last donation of 13.5 million euros came from Qatar. It remains unclear where all the money went. There are also power struggles in the sponsoring associations. Radical currents are trying to “hijack” the mosque. But in the end this is perhaps more of a description of the present than a prospect of the future, as the statements of the responsible minister show. Minister Tesfaye confirmed the millions of dollars in cash flows from the Middle East. The government will now counteract this. 

Other Islamic places of worship such as the Taiba Mosque, also located in Nørrebro, have donated millions. It is said to have received CZK 4.9 million from Saudi Arabia in the past few years. Turkey is also financing the construction of mosques across the country. Investments in the Turkish mosques in Roskilde and Holbæk have recently caused a sensation. In January, therefore, the national-conservative Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti, DF) brought a parliamentary resolution that should curb the growing influence of the Turkish religious authority Diyanet in Denmark. The government did not support this bill. 

DF proposal on naturalization law is discussed

At the end of February, the People’s Party also called for greater control over the naturalization of Muslims. DF MP Morten Messerschmidt said that “being a Muslim raises many fundamental problems with life in Denmark.” An Islamist, i.e. a radical Muslim, should not be allowed to vote in Denmark, according to Messerschmidt.

According to the DF politician, marrying people from abroad should also prevent naturalization in Denmark: “It is extremely negative for integration if you marry your cousin from the village your parents came from.” The Social Democrats were open to the suggestion to inquire about religious affiliation in the naturalization process and called on the People’s Party to make further specific proposals. The Liberals of Venstre also spoke out in favor of only those candidates who shared “Danish values” to receive Danish citizenship.

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