Islam in Denmark

Islam in Denmark


Approximately 2-3% of the population of Denmark are Muslims.cite web|url=|title=Denmark|publisher=CIA|accessdate=2008-03-27] Islam is the largest minority religion in Denmark.] Denmark has a predominantly Christian population, with Evangelical Lutheran making up more than 95% of Danes.

Religious freedom is guaranteed by law in Denmark, and as of 2005, nineteen different Muslim religious communities had status as officially recognized religious societies, which gives them certain tax benefits. However, unlike most Western countries, Denmark lacks separation of church and state, resulting in economic advantages for the Church of Denmark not shared by Muslim or other minority communities. [da icon] Although they are compensated by tax benefit.

The majority of the Muslims living in Denmark are first-generation immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

There are three phases in the Muslim immigration to Denmark: the foreign workers, the asylum seekers and those coming through marriage.

During the early 1970s, many Muslims emigrated from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and Yugoslavia in order to find work in Denmark. Denmark halted free immigration in 1973.

During the 1980s and 1990s a number of Muslim asylum seekers came to Denmark. In the 1980s mostly from Iran, Iraq, Gaza and the West Bank and in the 1990s mostly from Somalia and Bosnia. Some of those who sought asylum had been charged with terrorism in their home countries [ [ Jihad in Denmark] , Danish Institute for International Studies] .

The asylum seekers comprise about 40% of the Danish Muslim population.

Previously, the majority of Muslims who immigrated to Denmark did so as part of family reunification. The Danish parliament has passed a law in 2002 making family reunification harder. It was also implemented to counter forced marriages by ensuring that both parties are at least 24 years old and so considered old enough to enter a marriage without being forced to do so. The new law requires the couple to both be above the age of 24 and requires the spouse to show that they are capable of supporting both themselves and the new immigrant.

Religious issues

In 1967 the Nusrat Djahan Mosque [cite web|url=|title= Kirker i Danmark - en billeddatabase|accessdate=2008-01-22] (the first Mosque in Scandinavia) was built in Hvidovre, a Copenhagen suburb. This Mosque is used by adherents of the Ahmadi sect (which is by many other Muslims considered heretical).

Other mosques exist but are not built for the explicit purpose. It is not forbidden to build mosques or any other religious buildings in Denmark but there are very strict zoning laws. One piece of land has been reserved for a grand mosque at Amager (near Copenhagen), but financing is not settled. Danish Muslims have not succeeded in cooperating on the financing of the project and do not agree on whether it should be financed with outside sources, such as Saudi money. [ [,_2001.pdf Making a Mosque, Realizing a Community] , Helene Hemme Goldberg and Abigail Krasner (PDF)]

Seven Danish cemeteries have separate sections for Muslims. Most of the Danish Muslims are buried in those cemeteries, with about 70 being flown abroad for burial in their countries of origin. A separate Muslim cemetery was opened in Brøndby near Copenhagen in September 2006. [ [ After 15 years of wrangling, Muslims get their own burial grounds in Brøndby] , Copenhagen Post.]


The first Muslim private school was founded in 1978 - Den Islamisk Arabiske Skole (the Islamic Arabic School) in Helsingør and accepted students from any country. Today there are about 20 Muslim schools, most of which are located in the major cities. The Muslim schools are big enough today to enable catering to students according to their country of origin. In the 1980s, schools for Pakistani, Turkish and Arabic speakers were founded. Furthermore, Somali, Palestinian and Iraqi schools were founded in the 1990s. Today 6 or 7 nationalities dominate the Muslim schools.

The biggest school is Dia Privatskole in Nørrebro with about 410 students. Two Pakistani schools teach in Urdu as mother tongue and several Turkish schools have Turkish instruction. Most other schools cater to Arabic speaking students. [ [ Historien om de muslimske friskoler] , Danmarks Radio.] .


As a country with a highly homogeneous indigenous population, and with a history of immigration almost totally followed by complete assimilation within at most one generation, until the last decades of the 20th century, Denmark, like several countries in Western Europe, is dealing for the first time with the presence of a substantial and visible minority. As first and second generation immigrants, many drawn from the ranks of refugees, Muslims in Denmark have failed to achieve the economic and political power proportional to their population. For example, they remain over-represented among the unemployed, and under-represented in higher education, and among permanent residents holding citizenship and the right to vote. They also remain over-represented among prison populations (due to high crime rates). Some ethnic Danes feel threatened by aspects of Muslim culture, setting the stage for conflict. Partly as a reaction to this situation, recent years have seen the rise of a political party (the Danish People's Party) with nationalistic and anti-immigration policies. This party currently supports the ruling centre-right Liberal-Conservative coalition which has implemented stricter policies in order to reduce the number of immigrants to Denmark. Particularly by enforcing stricter criteria for granting permanent residence status to mixed couples where one of the spouses has not previously resided in Denmark. This is known as the "24 year rule", since it applies to persons younger than 24 years only. Other policies have aimed at providing access for immigrants to the labour market, and promoting competence of the Danish language.

Much media attention has been focused on arranged marriages, practiced by some Muslims, and laws have been implemented trying to prevent this practice. The choice of some Muslim women in Denmark to wear or not to wear various traditional head covering, e.g. in the workplace, has also been the subject of debate. In public schools, teaching is conducted in Danish, and the government opposes the use of immigrant children's mother tongue in Danish primary schools. However, Muslim schools where Danish is not the primary teaching language do exist.

A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten printed 12 caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in September 2005. These cartoons sparked an international controversy, ultimately resulting in the scorching of two Danish diplomatic missions, a boycott of Danish goods in several countries, and a large number of protests in the Muslim world. Violent protests in some countries have caused rising support for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party and, by some accounts, a more critical approach towards Islam in Denmark. Public protests by Danish Muslims were few and peaceful.


* "Foreningen af Demokratiske Muslimer" ("The organization of democratic Muslims"), founded by Naser Khader in 2006. Its current chairman is Moustapha Kassem.
* "Islamisk Trossamfund", Sunni Muslim, with strong Salafi tendencies, run by Mostafa Chendid, a Moroccan-born Danish imam.
* "Muslimer i Dialog" (Muslims in Dialogue), [ [ Muslimer i Dialog] ] , largely Sunni, run by Noman Malik and Abdul Wahid Pedersen. Their spokesman is Zubair Butt Hussain.
* "Hizb ut-Tahrir", mainly Sunni, but have a Shia Muslim minority.
* "Foreningen Salam" (Salam Association) is run by Shia Muslim women. [cite web|url=|title=Salam - Foreningen for unge muslimske kvinder|accessdate=2008-03-18]
* "UngeMuslimer Gruppen", (Young Muslims Group), Shia Muslim, based in Copenhagen. [cite web|url=|title=unge muslimer gruppens officielle hjemmeside|accessdate=2008-03-18]

Noted Danish-Muslims

* Ahmad Abu Laban
* Naser Khader
* Asmaa Abdol-Hamid

See also

* Religion in Denmark
* Islam by country
* Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy


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