Vandalism of cars of members of the
Jewish community, as well as threats and insults, were common forms of
antisemitic expression in Denmark in 2005. The international furor
surrounding the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad began in Denmark in fall 2005.
the Jewish community
Denmark was the first Scandinavian country to permit Jews to settle
when they arrived there in the 17th century. Jews have enjoyed civic equality
since 1814 and citizenship since 1849. Today there are 7,000 Jews in Denmark, out of a total population of 5.25 million. Most of the community is concentrated
in Copenhagen, but smaller communities exist in Odense and Aarhus. The central
communal organization is the Mosaiske Troessamfund. The community operates only
one synagogue, the Great Synagogue completed in 1833, as well as the Caroline
Jewish Day School (established in 1805). Joedisk Orientering is the
leading Jewish publication.
political organizations and
The transnational fundamentalist Hizb
ut-Tahrir (HuT) is well-established and very active in Denmark. The movement has influence on young Muslims, and can gather 400−1,500 people
to their various events. In 2002 Fadi Abdul Latif, its spokesman, was convicted
of making antisemitic threats. A Justice Department investigation found that
there was no basis in Danish law to prohibit HuT (see ASW 2003/4).
The son of militant Palestinian Imam Ahmad Abu Laban (see ASW 2002/3)
was expelled from his college in Denmark for spreading the political message of
organizations active especially in educational institutions (such as
universities and colleges) include Minhaj al-Quran, which operates among
people of Pakistani origin, and al-Muhajiroun (see United
Kingdom). Both disseminate propaganda urging the khilafa (political system in Islam; Caliphate) and Shariah
Two members of Minhaj al-Quran
(Walid Khan and Ahmat Tanweer) won seats in the November municipal elections in
Copenhagen. They were accused in the media of ‘double-talk’, one voice for
the Danish public and the other for their Muslim constituency. So far they have
kept a low profile.
Global Roots, a left-wing group
active in attempting to boycott Israel, together with the humanitarian
organization Folkekirkens Nødhjælp, erected replicas of Israel’s
security fence, three times during 2005: in front of a Copenhagen shopping mall
from January to April; during the music festival in Roskilde in July, and at
the end of the year on Axeltorv, in central Copenhagen. The impact of these actions
was limited, especially in the last two instances because of
contra-demonstrations by supporters of Israel. Participants at these events
carried banners equating the Star of David with the swastika.
Neo-Nazi and other extreme right
groups, such as the Dansk Front, the Danish National Socialist Party (DNSP) and
Blood & Honour, tend to maintain a much lower profile in Denmark than their counterparts in Sweden and Norway. Membership is small and their main concern is
antisemitic and racist
Ethnic youth (both newcomers and second
or third generation immigrants) of Middle East origin are increasingly
implicated in growing criminality in the country. Many of the new immigrants are concentrated in ghettos, such as Rosenhøj,
close to the city of Aarhus. Hizb ut-Tahrir is very active in these areas.
The protracted international
furor surrounding the publication of caricatures of the Prophet
Muhammad began in Denmark when the mainstream newspaper Jyllands Posten (with the second largest circulation
in the country) printed cartoons of the Prophet on 30 September. Over the next
few months they were reprinted in some 50 newspapers worldwide, including in Egypt (al-Fajr, 17 Oct.). Mass demonstrations of Muslims took place in Denmark and in other countries of western Europe, and especially in the Islamic world, and
official complaints were made to the Danish government by Danish Muslims among many
others. A delegation of Danish Muslims set out on an extended tour of the Middle East in order to rally support for its protest against the newspaper’s act of ‘blasphemy’
against 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide. The affair has given rise to a wide-ranging
debate throughout Danish society on freedom of speech, with opponents accusing those
that permit publication of such cartoons of racism.
repeated, of cars of members of the Jewish community was a common form of
antisemitic expression in 2005. For example, the car of community spokesman
Jacques Blum was vandalized four times, including in March and May 2005.
Evidence showed that it been kicked and damaged with a blunt instrument.
There were also frequent
reports of insults and threats. In February alone, youths of Middle East origin
yelled “Jewish whore” and “Jewish pig” at a young Danish woman near Copenhagen’s
Great Synagogue; another similar group labeled two Jews wearing skullcaps on
their way home from synagogue “Jew bastard,” accompanied by jeers in Arabic;
and two Middle Eastern looking men told a skullcapped Jew that he had better
convert to Islam if he wanted to escape a beating. During the High Holy Days in
October guards at synagogue entrances reported several instances of youths of Middle East origin yelling insults such as “F—king Jews” and “Jew swine.”
In March, Rabbi Emeritus
Bent Melchior and community spokesman Jacques Blum received mail from the Dansk
Front showing a Viking defending the flag of Denmark against “a Nigger, a Jew
and a Turk.” Rabbi Melchior also received a handbill, in Arabic signed by Hizb
ut-Tahrir, saying Jews were dirty swine and should be cleaned. The Jewish
retirement home in Copenhagen received three anonymous antisemitic letters.
In June, a neo-Nazi
website posted pictures, names and phone numbers/e-mail addresses of Jews and
foreigners − political figures, journalists and artists − living in Denmark. The site claimed that Jews were conspiring to control the world. The police were
investigating. An increase in the number of racist websites was reported by the
responses to antisemitism
Two imans from the Danish Islamic
Center participated in a conference organized by Police Intelligence (PET), in May 2005, on “The Roots of Terrorism in Europe.” Both blamed “the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict” and growing Islamophobia in Europe and in Danish society for Muslim
Danish Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen
apologized on 5 May, the 60th anniversary of Denmark’s liberation, before an
audience of 5,000, including Queen Margrethe III, for the extradition of
innocent people, among them 21 Jews, to Nazi Germany during World War II. He
was the main speaker at Mindelunden, where the majority of freedom fighters are
buried. The place is a symbol of Danish resistance against the Nazis during WWII.
Six people from several
countries are imprisoned in Denmark awaiting trial for “planning to carry out a
terrorist act” (the location in Europe has not been disclosed). The six are
connected to two others arrested in the Serbian Republic (one from Denmark and one from Sweden). During a search in a rented apartment, Serbian police found 20 kg explosives, a suicide belt, and literature and video tapes explaining the planned martyrdom.
The investigation is still ongoing, but it is reported that the group had links
to the Danish Islamist Said Mansour and British al-Muhajiroun leader Omar Bakri