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
2. Verbal aggression/hate speechDirect 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.
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.
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!”
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.
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
4. Good practices for reducing prejudice, violence and aggressionSee below.
5. Reactions by politicians and other opinion leaders
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”.