City politicians to skip mosque opening

Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for culture, Carl Christian Ebbesen (DF), will not attend the opening of Denmark’s largest mosque in May.

The mosque is being built on Rovsingsgade in Østerbro using a 150 million kroner grant from the former ruling emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

While Mohamed Al Maimouni – a spokesperson for Dansk Islamisk Råd (Danish Islamic Council), which is responsible for building the mosque – has previously told The Copenhagen Post that the donation will not impact the mosque’s religious line, city politicians are not convinced.

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Religious concern
“It is very disappointing that Copenhagen has allowed the construction of a monument that represents deeply conservative Islamic beliefs,” Ebbesen told Politiken newspaper.

“It will be used by deeply religious people who live and breathe for the Koran’s message, and if you look at who has paid for the mosque, there are many reasons to make sure that the activities [in the mosque] conform to Danish law,” Ebbesen added.

Queen Margrethe II and PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) have been invited to the opening ceremony in May, but City Council member Lars Aslan Rasmussen (S) says he doesn’t plan on attending.

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Human rights
“I wish the mosque the best of luck, but as a democratic politician and someone who is concerned with human rights, I do not support anything that has a connection to either the Muslim brotherhood or Qatar, which is a state that has supported terrorism in Syria and treats its guest workers poorly,” Rasmussen told Politiken.

The building on Rovsgingsgade will also house a fitness centre and media centre, as well as a culture centre with facilities for children and the elderly.

Speaking to Berlingske, Al Maimouni says the funding from Qatar only covers the cost of constructing the mosque and that the additional funds may have be sought from the City Council.

Danish law takes precedence
“I can guarantee that there is no external agenda here, whether it may be from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else. Dansk Islamisk Råd will be responsible for all religious activities and all religious guidance,” Al Maimouni told Politiken, adding that in cases where Danish and Sharia law are at odds, Danish law will take precedence.

Not all City Council politicians are as sceptical as Ebbesen and Rasmussen.

“There is freedom of religion in Denmark, and it is important that we don’t stigmatise a whole group prematurely. Copenhagen has a variety of religious institutions and now that we are getting a mosque, it only strengthens the city’s diversity,” Yildiz Akdogan (S) told Politiken.