First Published: 2004-11-22

Danish schools urged to root out Islamic extremism

Danish PM calls on schools to instill principles of democracy, tolerance, freedom of expression in young Muslim students.


Middle East Online

We can go far if we are stricter: Rasmussen

COPENHAGEN - Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday said he was determined to increase efforts in schools to root out Islamic extremism following the assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamic radical.

"Let's call the kettle black and admit that there are some young Muslims of immigrant origin who have not understood the principles of democracy, tolerance and freedom of expression on which Danish society is based. And there is something wrong when people leave school with such attitudes intact," Rasmussen was quoted as saying by Danish daily Information.

"Our schools are already supposed to educate the students on the topic of democracy, but I am simply saying that we have not succeeded everywhere to do so," he added.

Rasmussen requested that Education Minister Ulla Tornaes look into ways of better instilling the principles of freedom of expression, democracy and women's rights in young Muslim students.

Referring to the van Gogh murder and to recent attacks on moderate Muslims in Denmark, Rasmussen compared the fight against Islamic extremism to battles against neo-Nazism.

"We can go far if we are stricter. For a number of years we have contained neo-Nazis and their form of extremism," he pointed out.

He added however that he was against banning the expression of extreme Muslim opinions, since such a move "would only create a subculture".

Rasmussen's Liberal Party, which along with the Conservative Party make up the country's government, last week awarded a "Liberty Prize" to Dutch member of parliament Ali Hirsi who wrote the script for van Gogh's last film on women in Islam.

Islam is the second largest religion in Denmark, with about 180,000 believers, or approximately three percent of the Scandinavian country's 5.4 million inhabitants. Eighty-seven percent of Danes belong to the Evangelical Lutheran State Church.


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