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EDITORIAL: Finally, a distinctive mosque in Denmark

The Nørrebro mosque is welcome – Qatar is not

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How gratifying that Denmark is finally going to have large, attractive, visible and distinctive mosque.

And equally how pitiful that the mosque is completely financed by Qatar.

For a long time, Danish Muslims have had to congregate in humble surroundings that have neither been visible in the skyline of the city nor had the architectural dignity that a mosque, church or synagogue should have.

But when the Rovsingegade mosque in Nørrebro gets its dome and 20 m minaret, it will mark an important step for Danish Muslims and thus Danish society in general. Citizens who profess Islam should, of course, be able to meet in dignified surroundings to profess their faith.

And just as Danish Christians built hundreds of churches in the new suburbs that were populated following World War II, Danish Muslims must have the right to build where they congregate and feel a need.

A society that calls for integration, moderation and tolerance must, of course, seek the best conditions for its Muslim citizens.

Such tenets make it all the more woeful that the mosque in the Northwest Quarter has been fully financed by the Emirate of Qatar, which has donated 150 million kroner (EUR 20 million).

The Emirate is an ultra-conservative country that practices the fundamentalist Wahhabi branch of Islam, and which Danish Muslims would do well to keep at arm’s length.

It is naïve to believe that Qatar does not want both political and religious influence for its money, irrespective of how the donation and its conditions are formulated.

In French suburbs, where Qatar has invested heavily, there have been equally major problems with Islamist doomsday imams from the Gulf Emirate.

Unfortunately a pattern is evolving in Denmark, as elsewhere throughout Europe, under which certain mosques are affiliated with certain countries – whether they be Iranian Shiite, or Saudi or Qatari Wahhabi.

Irrespective of their denomination, Danish Muslims should be aware that the task of raising funds and being financially independent is vital for their credibility and integration in Danish society.

In return, society, both public and private, must help with financial and legislative goodwill in order to make it unnecessary to go cap in hand abroad.

The Nørrebro Mosque is welcome. Qatar is not.

BB

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