Islamic group: Politician’s comments were “sad and childish”
Imran Shah, a spokesperson for the Islamic faith group Det Islamiske Trosamfund (DIT), has written an opinion piece in Politiken newspaper claiming that Venstre’s immigration spokesperson Inger Støjberg’s remarks last week were a “sad and childish” attempt to revive the national immigration debate.
Last week, Støjberg wrote in Politiken that certain elements of the Islamic community did not respect Denmark’s values and should assimilate or simply leave, as no one was “forcing them to stay”. She also criticised DIT for not condemning stoning or arranged marriages and for failing to support the rights of homosexuals. She further claimed that her meeting with DIT in February of this year had left her feeling like she had just met with “wolves in sheep’s clothing".
Shah claims that Støjberg’s piece was littered with prejudices and that she had cherry-picked quotes out of context to further her cause.
According to Shah, DIT's meeting with Støjberg was constructive and informative for both sides and that DIT had walked out of it with a hope that it would help in the fight against prejudices across the board, whether it was aimed at “Muslims, Jews, homosexuals or anyone else”.
Shah, however, claims that he was shocked by some of the remarks made at the meeting, including the idea that Muslims should take on Danish names in order to further enhance integration.
A part of Shah’s opinion piece was also aimed at answering some of the allegations Støjberg put forth on stoning, arranged marriages and homosexuality.
“DIT does not feel that stoning is relevant in any way in Denmark, Europe or any other country,” Shah wrote. “That it is not relevant also means that DIT does not advocate for it, nor in any way wish for its implementation, either now or in any hypothetical future situation.”
Shah also emphasised the difference between arranged marriages and forced marriages. Forced marriages, according to Shah, are forbidden in Islam and therefore against DIT’s principles. Arranged marriages, however, are voluntary unions in which children are advised on finding a partner by their parents and other family members and therefore the practice is in accordance with DIT's beliefs.
According to Shah, DIT has never advocated for violence against homosexuals and the organisation believes that everyone is free to choose how they live.
He did, however, say in a follow-up interview with Politiken that no member of DIT had ever been openly gay and that a homosexual Muslim would not be turned away at the door, but rather helped in the same way that Muslims having problems with alcohol would be helped.
Shah expressed hope that the debate could be elevated beyond prejudice and the typical blame-game and that society could move on to focus on real issues.
When contacted by The Copenhagen Post, DIT refused to answer questions regarding the matter, stating that they felt their comments in Politiken were their last on the issue.