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17 Oct, 2019 14:54

Nearly half of immigrants’ descendants in Denmark say criticizing religion should be illegal

Nearly half of immigrants’ descendants in Denmark say criticizing religion should be illegal

Nearly 50 percent of descendants of non-Western immigrants in Denmark think it should be illegal to criticize religion — a sharp contrast with the numbers of ethnic Danes, a new survey shows.

The report from the Immigration and Integration Ministry found that descendants of immigrants are more interested in defending religion than recent immigrants who have been settled in the country.

While 48 percent of descendants said criticizing religion should be illegal, only 42 percent of first-generation immigrants who have been in Denmark for three years or more said the same.

For ethnic Danes, the number who want to get rid of the freedom to criticize religion was dramatically lower at only 20 percent.

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Despite the conflicting views on freedom of speech regarding religion between immigrants and ethnic Danes, the survey also found that immigrants have begun to feel more Danish than they did 10 years ago. Tolerance for homosexuality has also risen, the Copenhagen Post reported.

At the same time, the number of ‘new Danes’ who believe women should only be allowed to marry a man approved by their family has risen.

The results give cause for concern, according to Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye, who told the BT tabloid that while he understood that Middle Eastern immigrants want to “hold onto the values they were raised with,” it should be the case that “more and more accept the values of democracy from generation to generation.”

When half of the descendants [of immigrants] believe that religion should be exempt from criticism, I interpret that as people thinking that democracy must step out of the way.

Democracy in Europe means that people are given the freedom to practice their religion, but “equally crucial,” Tesfaye said, is that religion has to be able to “withstand criticism.”

For instance, while the Koran says a woman may only marry another Muslim, one must accept that there will be people who want to challenge that and they must be allowed. “The Constitution states that we are all free people, and that rule is above everyone else’s rules,” he said.

On the subject of religious symbols in dress, 88 percent of immigrants’ descendants said it was important that people should be allowed to wear religious symbols freely, while 68 first-generation immigrants felt the same. A smaller majority of 63 percent of ethnic Danes agreed.

The idea of religion being protected from criticism is not unusual in Europe, where, in many countries, anti-blasphemy laws are still in place. 

Also on rt.com Denmark repeals blasphemy law, Koran burner walks free

An Austrian woman was convicted last year after she called the Prophet Mohammed a “paedophile” in seminars she delivered in Vienna, during which she said the prophet had married a six-year-old girl and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old — a subject of some historical debate. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld the conviction, saying it “served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace.”

In other parts of Europe, things are moving in a different direction, however. 

Ireland deleted an outdated blasphemy law from its constitution in a 2018 referendum, which saw almost 65 percent voting yes to removing the ban — though it had been 150 years since anyone was actually prosecuted for blasphemy in Ireland. Denmark repealed its own blasphemy law in 2017.

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