Denmark: Increase in number of Muslim communities

Denmark: Increase in number of Muslim communities

See also: The 'Religion in Denmark' yearbook site.


The number of approved Muslim communities sharply increased in recent years.  In a decade the number more than quadrupled from 14 to 57.  With this, half of the mosques in Denmark today reached the status of approved faith-society, and this means that they have the authority to perform wedding ceremony, as well as having a number of tax incentives.

This, according to new data published today in the the yearbook  "Religion in Denmark" ("Religion i Danmark"), where researchers from the Center for Contemporary Religions (Center for SamtidsReligion) at Aarhus University collected statistics on all approved faith-societies in Denmark.

Ever since the decision in 2001 that Statistics Denmark will no longer update data on all approved faith-societies, only the Church of Denmark's key data is published every year.

According to religion sociologist Lene Kühle, who participated in preparing the study, there's a natural explanation for the increase in approved Muslim communities.  Since they have namely increased in number after the alien law was changed in 2004 to give residence visas for religious preachers who work for an approved faith-society.

"Before (that), it was more random who got a visa.  Now the option for getting imams to Denmark was formalized, in order to have greater control of the Muslim faith-societies.  This is because people have a - I think wrong - perception that it's the foreign imams who have responsible for some very radical and anti-democratic messages," says Lene Kühle. 

Zubair Butt Hussain, spokesperson fro the Muslim Joint Council, agrees that the increase is related to the import of foreign imams.  He believes though that the traffic will decrease with time, as more Danish Muslim in the future will go to other European countries, the USA or other places to be educated as an imam.

He further points out that the increased number of approved faith societies also suggests increased knowledge about how society functions and that more Muslims want to actively participate in society.

"Since a wedding is not just a religious ceremony.  To a high degree it's also embedded civility, it's deeply rooted in society," he says.

But while Lene Kühle also points out the increase can be seen as a greater wish to enter into a relationship with the state, it's not without initial difficulties.

Since Muslim faith-societies don't know how to utilize the tax incentives, which, for example, are very fundamental for many independent churches and other communities.  Only three approved faith-societies appear on the SKTA's (tax authority) list of associations approved to receive gifts and allow the donor to make deductions.

"It's caused by a lack of knowledge about some very complicated rules.  It means that it's harder to implement projects like renovating a mosque, building a mosque or bringing an imam to the community," says Lene Kühle.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

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