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Anti-Semitism in the European Union:
Denmark

(Updated December 2003)


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The Jewish population (ca. 7000) in Denmark (total population: 5.3 million) is well integrated socially and anti-Semitism is hardly visible, though the activities of right-wing extremist groups and the election campaign, which focused on immigration policy in 2001, have reinforced xenophobic attitudes. With the al-Aqsa Intifada violent anti-Israeli demonstrations and heated debates broke out from October 2000, “which included anti-Semitic manifestations”. These initiatives come from extreme leftist groups and militant Islamist activists. As in most of the other EU Member States, the climax of the public debate lay prior to the monitored period in March-April 2002, while the monitored period itself was calmer for the Jewish community in Denmark. It appears that there have been very few (if any) physical attacks and few reported incidents of direct verbal abuse.

1. Physical acts of violence

PET has no reports of anti-Semitic attacks in the monitoring period, neither of a physical or verbal nature, nor of incidents of graffiti, vandalism, etc. in the monitoring period. However in August the Copenhagen synagogue was vandalized and anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on its walls. The Jewish Community in Denmark, which systematically registers all anti-Semitic incidents in Denmark, reported the following incidents: two Arabs harassed the President of the Jewish Community. During the period in question the Jewish Community received at least 8 reports from members who had been spat upon or otherwise harassed on the street by Moslems. A mother, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that Palestinians who knew her son from school had beaten him on the street. The boy required medical attention at the local hospital. On 21 April 2002, a Danish Jewish shop owner in the “Nørrebro” district of Copenhagen was attacked by a gang of Palestinian youths near his shop. The gang beat him and stabbed him with a knife. On 13 June 2002, a member of the Jewish Community’s Board reported the eighth incident of malicious damage to his automobile.

2. Verbal aggression/hate speech

Direct threats/abuse

Rabbi Yitzchok Lowenthal, director of Chabad Denmark, reports that between 15 May and 15 June 2002 he was shouted at 5-6 times by young men with Arab background. Similarly, a few friends of the Rabbi were verbally assaulted on the street. A student at the Jewish school (Carolineskolen) was afraid to go home after being repeatedly threatened by young men of Arab background at the bus stop. A Jewish man on a bus reported that a gang of young people of presumable Arab descent yelled at him and told him what they would do to “the Jews”. On 21 May 2002, the mother of a student at Byens Skole in the Valby district of Copenhagen went to the police because Muslim students from the neighbouring Vigerslev Allé Skole had threatened her son. A teacher at the boy’s school had to smuggle him out the back door on 17 May when a gang of Arabs showed up to beat him.

Indirect threats

In April the Islamic political organisation, Hizb-ut-tahrir, distributed flyers on the street containing material from their homepage, “And kill them, wherever you find them, and expel them from where they expel you”. The incident has been continuously debated in public (see section 5).

On 21 May 2002, graffiti was seen and photographed on traffic signs around Fælledparken: “No Juden”.

On 11 June 2002, graffiti was seen and photographed at Blågårdsplads: “No Jews”. A Lutheran bishop delivered a sermon in Copenhagen Cathedral comparing Sharon’s policies toward the Palestinians to those of the biblical King Herod, who ordered the slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two – prior to the incident at the Church of Nativity (2 April) – in the same Bethlehem under siege by the Israelis today.

Insults

A person with connections to the Progressive Jewish Forum describes how various insinuating comments have been passed at work. For example, when entering her office, a colleague said, “you’ve occupied there (her chair) very well, haven’t you – ha, ha”, and “you have nothing against there being pig’s blood in the wine, have you?” When she enquired whether the wine was Italian, the colleague answered: “It is in any case not from Israel. If it was I would definitely not drink it!”

Media

No examples of anti-Semitic newspaper articles in the daily press are known. However in August the widely circulated newspaper Jytland Posten carried a radical Islamist’s offer of a reward of $35,000 for the murder of prominent Jews. The head of the Danish Jewish community subsequently reported receiving threatening telephone calls. There has also been a debate about the situation in Israel in the daily press, where some critics of Israel’s policies feel as if they are being accused of being anti-Semitic, whereas certain members of the Jewish community feel that the newspaper reports are one-sided.

Internet

Hizb-ut-tahrir’s homepage contains anti-Semitic material, such as “Jews are a slanderous people” and openly calls on Muslims “kill all Jews (. . .) wherever you find them."

3. Research studies

Between 16 May and 4 June and between 9 and 29 September, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) based in New York commissioned two surveys “European Attitudes towards Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” that were conducted in ten European countries, including Denmark. Compared with most of the other EU member states, the agreement expressed in Denmark to four anti-Semitic stereotypes was clearly below the EU-average (see Table: Report on Belgium). Also with the statement “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country” the Danes (45%) remained below the European average (51%)

4. Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggression

See below.

5. Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders

On the same day as Hizb-ut-tahrir began distributing its flyers the Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, invited several leading figures from the Jewish Community in Denmark to discuss the incident. Immediately afterwards the Prime Minister publicly condemned the flyers and everything they stood for. The author of the flyer has been reported to the police in connection with §266 b, the so-called racism paragraph, and the Public Prosecutor is presently investigating whether Hizb-ut-tahrir should be prohibited in accordance with §78 of the Danish constitution, an act which prohibits violent organisations or organisations which incite violence. A majority in the Danish Parliament supports both of these actions.

Several commentators have, however, stated that the quote has been taken out of context and is in fact not an actual call for Muslims to kill Jews in Denmark. Several leading figures with Muslim background have publicly condemned Hizb-ut-tahrir, their methods and their viewpoints. The Member of Parliament, Naser Khader, together with the Chairman of the Integration Council in Copenhagen, Hanna Ziadeh and historian Mahmoud Issa, who are all Danish-Palestinians, wrote a long open letter in the daily broadsheet newspaper Politiken (24.5.02) appealing to all Danish-Palestinians living in Denmark not to let their “justified criticism of the Israeli government turn into hatred for all Jews”. They emphasized, “our battle is political and not about religion and ethnicity”. The article was printed in both Danish and Arab.

The daily newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad published (10 May 2002) an interview with Tariq Ramadan, whom the paper describes as Europe’s best-known Islamic thinker, in which he explains that “hate for the Jews is not Islamic”. In the article he says, “nothing in Islam legitimizes the anti-Semitism that certain Muslim organisations are expounding”.


Sources: C.R.I.F. - Released by the European Jewish Congress

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