Naser Khader, who stepped down from his duties as a Konservative MP to take stress leave in April, will today begin his defence in the Supreme Court against charges that he libelled the female imam Sherin Khankan.
Like she did with an unsuccessful lawsuit in the High Court last year, Khankan will contend that Khader defamed her with a character assassination and abuse of power when he sent an email on 13 September 2017 to a group of MPs (from Radikale, SF and Alternativet) airing concerns about Exit Circle, an organisation that helps victims of psychological violence, which she chairs.
Concerns about funding
The email, which was co-signed by Venstre’s Marcus Knuth and DF’s Martin Henriksen and aired concerns about Exit Circle receiving 680,000 kroner in state support, was subsequently shared with the public, while Khader went on to make a series of posts on Facebook.
At the Eastern High Court last year, which was the case’s first hearing, it was ruled that MPs cannot be responsible for statements made or written in connection with their work in Folketinget. It further concluded that Khader’s social media posts were part of the public debate and, to a certain extent, valid.
Knuth and Henriksen are no longer being sued as part of the case.
“Not an Islamist”
Khankan is most particularly aggrieved with Khader’s claim that she has a “black Islamist past”, vehemently denying the allegation, underlining how she supports secularism and conducts interfaith marriages.
“An Islamist is a person who defines Islam as a political ideology. I am a female imam and you cannot be a female imam and an Islamist at the same time,” she said.
“I think it is undermining democracy that powerful politicians at Christiansborg can abuse their political influence to spread lies and undermine citizens’ personal reputation and professional work.”
Scores of complaints
However, since Khankan’s unsuccessful lawsuit last year, a number of political commentators and colleagues of Khader have claimed they felt “threatened” by Khader over a period of “many years”.
Specifically, the complaints allege that Khader, who swiftly went on stress leave after they were aired last month, contacted the employers of his rivals with unfounded accusations to pressure employers into reprimanding them.