Danish Muslim group supports Syrian hate preacher

Imprisoned in Lebanon, Omar Bakri uses technology to get his message out – an increasing trend used to radicalise young Danish Muslims, according to PET

TV2 News reports that a radical Muslim group called ‘Kaldet til Islam’ (The Call to Islam) are being taught by Omar Bakri, a notorious anti-Western preacher.

Bakri may be serving a life sentence In Lebanon for inciting murder, theft and possession of weapons and explosives, but he was still able to speak to a demonstration organised by Kaldet til Islam this September on Kongens Nytorv through a mobile telephone attached to a megaphone.

“Those that make films, pictures or caricatures of the prophet should watch out! Islam promises death to anyone that insults the prophet’s honour,” he told the demonstration according to TV2 News. “Anyone that insults the prophet should be killed.”

According to TV 2 News, Abu Asadullah and Abu Musa, the spokesperson and chairman, respectively, of Kaldet til Islam – which numbers only around 50 members – regularly listen to Omar Bakri's teachings over the internet.

Bakri, originally from Syria, lived in the UK between 1986 and 2005. During that time he established the organisation Al-Muhajiroun. According to UK newspaper The Times, Bakri praised the 19 men responsible for the 9/11 attacks against the US, while “a dozen members" of Al-Muhajiroun "have taken part in suicide bombings or have become close to al-Qaeda and its support network.” Bakri was refused re-entry to the UK from Lebanon after travelling there on a trip in 2005.

The fact that Bakri maintains supporters in Denmark despite being jailed in Lebanon has elicited strong statements from Danish politicians.

“We have freedom of speech and I will fight to keep it even though these people, who don’t know any better, are pushing it to its limits,” Venstre’s immigration spokesperson, Inger Støjberg, told TV2 News “It’s convenient that they live in Denmark because here they can say what they want, whereas where they are from everything has to match the Koran.”

She added: “They should go back to the loser countries where their views are shared.”

Legal spokesperson for the Socialdemokraterne, Ole Hækkerup, found it hypocritical that Danish Islamists were using free speech to call for the death of people that use their freedom of speech.

“What’s most important is that the authorities keep a close eye on these people,” Hækkerup said. “If there is any chance to take them down we should. If they can be charged, they should be brought before a judge.”

Bakri’s use of the internet and technology to spread his message is not unusual, according to the head of Denmark’s domestic intelligence agency PET, Jacob Scharf, who argues that greater efforts need to be made to prevent young Danish Muslims, particularly men, from being groomed by radical Islamists over the internet.

“We are seeing a new tendency develop in which social media is being actively used as a tool for radicalisation,” Scharf told Politiken newspaper.

According to Scharf, social media such as Facebook is used by radical Islamists to make first contact with potential recruits. At first, the viewpoints they share seem legitimate and harmless, but subsequently the recruits may be linked to closed web forums where the viewpoints become increasingly radical.

“Militant symbols and rhetoric are used which are inherently militant but seem less dangerous. And then they are directed to places on the internet which have a much more violent rhetoric," Scharf said. "This gradual grooming, in which people are slowly exposed to increasingly more violent messages, is new and dangerous.”

Not everyone shares the view that radical groups such as Kaldet til Islam, are so dangerous, however.

“I see them mostly as provocateurs, not as particularly dangerous terrorists,” Manni Crone, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute of International Studies, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “They have been attracted by the extreme environments, but they don’t have the means or the opportunities to go further so their provocations remain their action.”