Repeal of Danish blasphemy law may have security consequences, expert says

Stephen Gadd
June 2nd, 2017

This article is more than 6 years old.

The Mohammed cartoons have placed Denmark in a special category compared to the other Nordics when it comes to potential terrorism

Despite the blasphemy law being repealed, religion and its symbols still mean a lot to many people (photo: Grizurgbg)

If all goes as expected in the Danish Parliament later today, it will soon be possible to set fire to a copy of the Koran or the Bible – should you wish to do so – and escape prosecution.

A large majority in Parliament intends to repeal the so-called blasphemy law, which allows for fines or imprisonment of up to four months for anyone who derides, ridicules or insults a legally-defined religion’s teaching or way of worshipping.

A renewed focus on Denmark
Repealing the law could cause the terrorist threat level to be raised because jihadists will be able to exploit it to put renewed focus on Denmark, Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen, the former boss of the nation’s intelligence agency PET, told DR Nyheder.

“You are violating that which is most sacred to some people, for example, the prophet Mohammed or burning the Koran. That can lead to an increase in the terrorism threat,” added Bonnichsen.

As recently as last month, PET warned that “… a repeal of paragraph 140 on blasphemy could have security-related consequences for Denmark, including contributing to intensifying the risk to Denmark and Danish interests abroad.”

No problems expected by minister
However, according to the justice minister, Søren Pape Poulsen, the terrorist threat to Denmark is already so high that it would be difficult to raise it further unless there was a concrete terrorist attack.

“We are going to repeal this and I really don’t think that this issue will have a greater or lesser influence on what happens here at home because there is a high risk of terror in Denmark,” said Poulsen.

All the political parties, with the exception of Socialdemokratiet, are expected to vote in favour of repealing the law.


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