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Danes angry at Turkish report claiming they are Islamophobic

An EU-funded report from a Turkish think tank, the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), has created a stir in Denmark after it accused the Scandiavian country of widespread Islamophobia.

Published: November 8, 2019, 7:15 am

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    Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum said the report was a waste of Danish and EU-member tax money. One Danish MEP remarked: “We are paying for a report that spreads lies and propaganda about ourselves”.

    According to the 800-page European Islamophobia Report from 2018, Denmark runs “exclusionary” political campaigns, in which daily discrimination of Muslims is allegedly being “normalised”.

    Citing Denmark’s “Burqa ban”, “discriminatory” laws, and “widespread rhetoric on the supposed incompatibility of Islam with ‘Danishness’”, the country is denounced because of abandoning democracy and embracing “ethnocracy” instead.

    MEP Peter Kofod from the Danish People’s Party called the report “a scandal” suggesting that Brussels immediately stop all funding for Turkey’s accession to the EU. Ankara should also be notified that it will never become a member of the union, he added. “It’s a scandal that the EU system finances this kind of crazy stuff”, Kofod said. The money for the report came from the EU’s pre-accession aid fund for Turkey, since Turkey is eligible as an EU candidate. Brussels paid Turkey 126 952 euros for the scathing report.

    Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, a Social Democrat, said he was “really angry” about the report. “It goes without saying that EU funds shouldn’t be used to sponsor a Turkish NGO’s report on Islamophobia in Europe, including Denmark”, Kofod told Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

    Another Social Democrat MEP Christel Schaldemose, called the report “ridiculous” and a propaganda tool. “I cannot take such a report seriously, and it is unreasonable for EU tax money to be spent this way. We are so to speak paying for a report that spreads lies and propaganda about ourselves,” said Schaldemose.

    MEP Niels Fuglsang said the report was a waste of public funds and “a propaganda affair for [Turkish President] Erdogan”. He also demanded an explanation from the EU for supporting such an endeavour.

    “Danish” contributors to the report Sibel Özcan and Zeynep Bangert, are both ethnic Turks working in Denmark. They singled out former Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg because she had warned that the Danish population was at risk during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

    While SETA presents itself as an “independent, non-profit and non-partisan” organisation, Jyllands-Posten noted that it had close ties to President Erdogan and his party AKP.

    A survey carried out in October by YouGov on behalf of media outlet Mandag Morgen revealed that only 28 percent of Danes either agree or partially agree that all Muslims should leave Denmark.

    But for some that percentage was too high. “It’s brutal that so many can agree to Muslims being expelled from Denmark,” Christian Albrekt Larsen, a professor from Aalborg University, told Mandag Morgen.

    The Danes are much more open to Muslim neighbours and their family members than other Europeans, according to a recent US survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. The US pollster based in Washington, DC, found that 91 percent of Danes would be willing to accept Muslim neighbours, while 81 percent would be willing to accept a Muslim family member.

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