The Danish People’s Party and mosques in Denmark

Kenn Nakata Steffensen

Today’s Guardian reported about a lawsuit by the teacher’s union NASUWT, which may bar members of the BNP from becoming school governors in England.[1] It seems that while the barbarians are at the gates in the UK, on the other side of the North Sea xenophobic radical nationalism has been mainstream politics for several years now.

As part of its campaign for the forthcorming local elections, the Danish People’s Party published a poster with an inflammatory, manipulated image of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul with crossed swords on the roof. This image and the following text are the first thing that greets visitors to the party’s website today:[2]

Danish People's Party campaign poster
Danish People's Party campaign poster

DPP demand referendum on grand mosques

GUARANTEE

NO to grand mosques in Danish cities!

As a bolt of lightning from a clear and peaceful Danish summer sky the politicians on the Copenhagen City Council decided the other day to build a grand mosque in the city centre. Only the Danish People’s Party voted against it!

The money is coming from, amongst other sources, the terrorist regime of Iran, but none of the other parties cared about that.

In three years another gigantic mosque – on Amager and financed by the dictatorial state of Saudi Arabia – will be a reality unless the citizens stop it.

There are similar plans in other Danish cities.

We will issue you a guarantee: The more representatives from The Danish People’s Party are elected to your council in the elections on November 17th, the more resistance there will be against the strongholds of Islamism, in your town too.

Vote Danish – also locally.

Danish People’s Party

www.danskfolkeparti.dk 3337 5199 E-mail: df@ft.dk

Accompanying the poster is a longer press release with the heading “Terrorist nests”, which I may translate and post later. It is a rambling, badly edited text, so for now, I will just provide the first paragraph and the party’s three objections against the building of mosques.

The press release begins with the statement that

Grand mosques are far more than just a random place for the Muslim faithful to meet. Experience shows that many mosques soon become centres of religious fanaticism and terrorist sympathisers.[3]

The party’s arguments against the building of mosques are:

Firstly, there is the issue of the architectural design of the mosque. A mosque built in a traditional style will fit badly into the surroundings in most Danish cities.

Secondly, there is the issue of the grand mosque’s spiritual meaning. Many mosques in Europe are named after Muslim war heroes, they are called conqueror’s mosques or something similar. In the Muslim view the mosques mark that Muslims have taken over power here – the incorporation of an area into dar al-islam, which had previously been a part of dar al-harb or [sentence incomplete]

Thirdly, grand mosques simply incite more Muslims to attend the mosque, and many Muslims will obviously flock to the mosque – this will have a negative impact on the local area, for instance through increased traffic and loud behaviour among those streaming to the mosque. Finally, extremist Muslims often try to exploit the large influx to the grand mosques to recruit new adherents. So even in cases where the imams of the mosques supposedly follow a moderate line, the establishment of a grand mosque will often lead to rising extremism among Muslims.[4]

Like the BNP, the Danish People’s Party are intensely xenophobic and nationalistic. Unlike the BNP, they are no longer a fringe movement, and there is no longer a parliamentary cordon sanitaire and united front against them. They are as close to being in government as is possible in the Danish political system. The ruling Liberal-Conservative coalition depend on them for their parliamentary majority. They are in a position to dictate terms to the government without the responsibility that follows with ministerial posts. The only remaining obstacle to their participation in a coalition cabinet with the Liberals and Conservatives is their opposition to the EU. If, as there are indications might happen, they moderate their stance on Denmark’s membership of the EU, they will be welcomed into a coalition. In the 2007 parliamentary election the party won 13.8% of the votes cast, giving them 25 out of the 179 seats in parliament. So, they are far more successful than the BNP. Their success is not only evidenced by their electoral success and status as the third largest party in the country, but also by the way in which Danish political discourse has been transformed. Most other parties, including the Social Democrats (consistently) and the left-of-centre Socialist People’s Party (occasional statements against the need to resist “Muslim men of darkness” etc.) have responded to the challenge posed by pandering to popular xenophobic sentiment rather than opposing it. The DPP has arguably set the agenda of public discourse and successfully pulled the mainstream in a xenophobic anti-Islamic direction. A British analogy would be if the BNP had 90 seats in Westminster and propped up a Liberal-Conservative coalition where the Liberal Democrats had over 15-20 years moved more or less to where the BNP stand on immigration and ethnic minority rights today. In this future Britain, the Conservatives would get fewer votes than the BNP. It would be a Britain where Labour MPs and government ministers would give words like “multicultural society” and “bilingual children” sinister, negative and dystopian connotations. This is what has happened in Denmark. However, the analogy must be qualified because the DPP has different ideological roots and has taken  different routes than the BNP. Although there are major areas of overlap with parties that grew out of 20th century fascism, the DPP is not a fascist party. Its political theory is a perverse bastard child of enlightenment liberalism with some of the same roots as National Socialism, but like similar Dutch phenomena it should not be confused with fascism. This is perhaps what makes it even more disturbing to those who believe in pluralism. It is arguably the radically democratic and egalitarian nature of Danish political culture, which has provided the enabling conditions for the rise of a party like the DPP.

Notes


[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/sep/09/bnp-governor-review

[2] http://www.danskfolkeparti.dk/Forside.asp

[3] ”Stormoskeer er langt mere end bare et tilfældigt mødested for troende muslimer. Erfaringen viser, at mange af moskéerne hurtigt bliver centrum for religiøs fanatisme og terrorsympatisører.”

[4] For det første er der spørgsmålet om den arkitektoniske udformning af moskéen. En moské opført i traditionel byggestil vil passe dårligt ind i omgivelserne i de fleste danske byer.

For det andet er der spørgsmålet om stormoskéens åndelige betydning. Mange moskéer i Europa er opkaldt efter muslimske krigshelt, kaldes erobrermoskéen eller lignende. Moskéerne markerer i muslimsk optik, at her har muslimerne overtaget magten – indlemmelsen af et område i dar al-islam, som tidligere har været en del af dar al-harb eller

For det tredje ansporer stormoskéer ganske enkelt flere muslimer til at gå i moskéen, og mange muslimer vil givetvis valfarte til den nye moské – det fører til at lokalområdet påvirkes i negativ grad eksempelvis via øget trafik og højrøstet adfærdsmønstre blandt de tilstrømmende til moskéen. Endelig forsøger ekstremistiske muslimer ofte at udnytte den store tilstrømning til stormoskéer til at hverve nye tilhængere. Så selv i det tilfælde, at den linje, som stormoskéens imamer, skulle være moderat, så vil etableringen af en stormoské ofte føre til stigende ekstremisme blandt muslimerne.

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