If the Danish imam Abdul Wahid Petersen is asked to marry two people, if the man is already married, he will normally decline. But only "normally". Petersen says he would agree if the first wife says that it's ok with her and that she can't have children or if there is another reason.
According to the Koran a man can have up to four wives, but a woman can only marry one man.
Petersen says one of the cases he handled was a woman who couldn't have children. She suggested herself that her husband would get another wife. They had a child who had a father, mother and an aunt, which is what they called her, and all three were happy to have the child.
His comments caused conservative integration spokesmen, Henriette Kjær, to suggest re-education for the imam. She says polygamy is forbidden in Denmark and will of course be prosecuted. Regardless of whether Abdul Wahid Pedersen finds his arguments in the Koran or elsewhere, his position on polygamy shows that he neither accepts or understands that in Denmark there's equality between women.
Morten Østergaard, left-wing integration spokesman says Pedersen causes damage to integration with his positions and causes some of the prejudice against Muslims, that they support polygamy and don't belong to modern society. He adds that Denmark needs to go back to the religion debate and say that we are a liberal country but polygamy is not something we're going to have.
Polygamy is banned by law in Denmark, but though Denmark doesn't recognize such marriages, a man can theoretically be married to one wife by a state recognized marriage and marry more women in a Muslim manner. Quite legally.
Fahmy Almajid, integration consultant, says such things do exist. The "legal" couple might live in an apartment while wife #2 who appears as a single parent, lives with her children.
It happens 3-4 times a year, that family services deals with people who have married twice illegally and must ask them to choose one of the women, he says.
SF's equality spokesperson, Pernille Vigsø Bagge, is shocked that polygamy exists in Denmark and thinks it is oppression of women, because it only takes place if the man wants it. She says the Equality Ministry should start a campaign about woman's rights in Danish society in 2007 and there should be an internal revolt among Muslim women with support from the women who have already achieved a high degree of freedom.
She rejects that polygamy by the Muslims can be compared to having a mistress, as Abdul Wahid Petersen said. She said it is a social construction where a man lives in a parallel society, where the woman is the man's wife number two, three or four outside the Danish law where it is forbidden to have several wives. It has nothing to do with sexual moral but with oppression, she says.
Source: Berlingske (Danish)