Ethnic minority group’s funding “better spent elsewhere”

A group representing young minorities will lose a million kroner in state funding due to concerns that a speaker at one of its events was “anti-democratic”

A group representing ethnic minorities has lost its state funding after it last year invited a controversial Muslim scholar to speak at an anti-radicalism conference.

Ny-Dansk Ungdomsråd lost its one million kroner in funding from the ‘satspuljen’ – a government fund set aside for projects helping marginalised social groups – due to resistance from the anti-immigration party Dansk Folkeparti (DF).

DF was highly critical that the Muslim scholar Tahir ul-Qadri was invited to the conference as he is accused of playing an instrumental role in developing Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws that critics argue have been used to persecute religious minorities.

His involvement is unclear, however, as despite repeatedly denying playing a role, he allegedly admitted writing the laws in video seen by Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Ul-Qadri is more widely known, however, for issuing a 2010 fatwa, or a Muslim legal pronouncement, against terrorism in which he declared that there was no justification for carrying out violence in the name of Islam.

But despite his high-profile anti-terrorism work, such as an inivtation to speak at the World Economic Forum in 2011, Ul-Qadri’s link to the blasphemy laws led social affairs minister Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne) to pull out of the conference at short notice, even though she had allegedly known for a long time that she would be sharing a platform with him.

DF integration spokesperson Martin Henriksen told Jyllands-Posten that the council had to suffer the consequences of its actions.

“We want to send a signal that from now on if you want money from the satspuljen you cannot engage with people who have anti-democratic views,” Henriksen said.

The distribution of satspuljen funds is agreed between all political parties except the far-left Enhedslisten and while Hækkerup initially supported renewing funding for the Ny-Dansk Ungdomsråd, it was pulled in the final agreement.

Eyvind Vesselbo, who negotiated for opposition party Venstre, argued that the money was better spent elsewhere.

“The conference was a major scandal,” Vesselbo told Jyllands-Posten. “And when there are so many other good causes that need money, it could go instead to helping families suffering from the effects of alcoholism rather.”

It was not possible to reach Ny-Dansk Ungdomsråd for a comment.