A housing complex in the town of Kokkedal, north of Copenhagen, won’t have its annual Christmas tree this year after its residents’ association voted not to pay the 5,000 to 7,000 kroner the tree costs to buy and light during December.
The decision has become a nationwide scandal after it was revealed the board of Egedalsvænge has a Muslim majority that had three days previously spent 60,000 kroner on a party celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid.
The decision has angered Konservative MP Tom Behnke, who called the move intolerant.
“I think it’s deeply troubling that our integration efforts have failed so badly that Danish traditions are removed and replaced by Muslim traditions the moment there is a Muslim majority,” Behnke told DR News. “People must have the right to celebrate their festivals, but you should also respect the celebrations in the country you have come to.”
He added that he fears there are people that want to transform Denmark into a Muslim country.
“There is no point in trying to change Denmark into a Muslim country simply because you have a Muslim background. That can never happen. On the contrary, we need mutual respect for each other. This is an example of a lack of respect for Danish traditions and culture,” Behnke said.
“We should not want a Denmark where Danish traditions disappear when there is a Muslim majority present.”
Local newspaper Frederiksborg Amts Avis, broke the story on its front page today. According to its sources, there is deep frustration that the new majority in the board is not representative of the views of the housing complex’s residents, and not least of its many Muslims.
The newspaper added that the decision could lead to tensions by creating an ‘us against them attitude’ in the housing complex that has often been referred to as a ‘ghetto’ in the media.
The chairman of 3B, the housing company that runs the complex, told the tabloid BT it was investigating the situation.
“It really came as a surprise,” Steffen Morild said. “This is a block that doesn’t tend to have cultural problems. Things tend to work out peacefully. We haven’t had the opportunity to talk to the board yet but we will soon.”
While a Facebook group has been created to start a collection to pay for the Christmas tree, a member of political party Venstre has also offered to stump up the money.
“We can only guess what the board based its decision on," Tomas Elgaard, a Venstre mayoral candidate in Fredensborg Council,wrote in a press release. “But I have no sympathy for prioritising Eid higher than a Christmas tree. Integration is about having respect for each other's traditions, religions and beliefs as well as showing mutual respect.”