First Published: 2005-04-14

Danish queen warns against rise of Islam

Queen Margrethe II says in her new book people must on occasion show their opposition to Islam.


Middle East Online

It is a challenge we have to take seriously: Queen Margrethe II

COPENHAGEN - Denmark's Queen Margrethe II warned against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Denmark and the world in a new book out on Thursday, saying people must on occasion "show their opposition to Islam".

"It is a challenge we have to take seriously. We have let this issue float about for too long because we are tolerant and very lazy," she said in the authorized biography "Margrethe" written by journalist Annelise Bistrup.

While she did not specifically refer to fundamentalism, she spoke of "these people for whom religion is their entire lives".

"We have to show our opposition to Islam and we have to, at times, run the risk of having unflattering labels placed on us because there are some things for which we should display no tolerance," she said.

"And when we are tolerant, we must know whether it is because of convenience or conviction," added the queen, who has reigned since 1972 and celebrates her 65th birthday on Saturday.

Denmark has in recent years been accused of fuelling xenophobic tendencies after implementing a slew of measures aimed at curbing immigration. The government has argued that it wants to focus efforts on improving the assimilation into Danish society of immigrants already in the country.

Queen Margrethe, who professes a knowledge of Islam due to her interest in archaeology, said it was "natural that young Muslims would be attracted" to the faith's absolute values and seek refuge in religion "as they are cut off from our community because of their lack of (Danish) language skills."

"It's not just a matter of speaking and understanding" Danish, she said, but also "understanding the language's codes, and we have to help them."

The queen, who is hugely popular among Danes, is the head of the Lutheran-Evangelical Church, of which 85 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million inhabitants are members. Muslims make up about three percent of the population.


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