Research in the European microcosm nation of Denmark has found three-quarters of Muslims in the country register on an important measure for radicalisation – more now than a decade ago.
Whereas 10 years ago Muslims in Denmark could have been considered to be comparatively moderate, today a poll by newspaper Jyllands-Posten finds attitudes have hardened – and the younger the Muslim, the more likely they are to hold hard-line views.
In a series of polls released by the paper over the course of this week, it has been revealed that Muslims are now more likely to take the word of the Quran literally, and that the teaching of the Islamic holy book should be implemented directly. In 2006 the number of people who agreed with the statement “the Quran’s instructions should be followed completely” was 62 per cent – today it has grown to 77 per cent; a strong majority.
While many have argued that the more violent verses of the Quran, which includes commandments to slay the enemies of the religion, have been taken out of context and are not to be interpreted literally, the view of three quarters of Muslims living in Denmark seems to contradict this view.
As well as taking the faith more literally, Muslims in Denmark also practice it with greater devotion, with more than half now praying at least five times a day, and a similar proportion rejecting the notions of any form of modernisation or reformation.
Jyllands-Posten reports this attitude towards a possible Islamic reformation came as a great disappointment to the small, elite group of Muslims that exist within the fashionable and powerful neighbourhoods of Copenhagen, such as Conservative member of parliament Naser Khader, who campaigns for such a reformation.
The paper reports the comments of one left-wing campaigner of Syrian Muslim heritage, who said in response to the poll’s findings that the fact Danish Muslims weren’t on board with their modernising mission was because the message had been mis-worded, and a rebranding of the concept of reformation would bring them up to date and in line with her metropolitan ideals. Contradicting this conceit, the paper also printed the remarks of Imam Fatih Alev of the Danish Islamic Centre, who said: “You can not change what is in the Quran and what the prophet has told us we need to do. Then you are not a Muslim any-more”.
On integration, attitudes towards the children of Muslim families marrying non-Muslims in Denmark varied. While a minority supported the idea of a daughter marrying someone outside the faith, a remarkable 74 per cent said they would be happy for a son to marry a non-Muslim.
This may be less surprising considering the literal interpretation of the Quran now enjoyed by the majority of Muslims in Denmark allows for polygamy, and for some wives to be treated less kindly than others.
Sociologist Brian Arly Jacobsen of the University of Copenhagen expressed surprise at the finding.
He told the paper: “It seems that Danish Muslims have become more religious in all dimensions, both in terms of faith and practice. Generally, we would expect that the opposite would happen, and that they would eventually come to resemble the rest of the Danes, who are not particularly religious activity”.
He said the opening of 30 new mosques in the past decade was likely the main cause of the radicalisation, a key warning to other European nations presently planning to allow the construction of mosques to serve their own booming Muslim populations. Perhaps most telling of all are the comments of Free Press Society chairman Katrine Winkel Holm, who said of the findings that they were a sign of Islamist forces within Denmark “unfolding at full speed”.
That Danish Muslims are now more hardline today than they were ten years ago should concern freedom of the press campaigners in the nation. It was back in 2005, a mere decade ago that cartoonists working with the Jyllands-Posten were threatened with execution, and massive protests spread from the nation worldwide after the paper published depictions of Mohammed.
The news reflects a trend also observed in Britain. In 2007 it was revealed that a staggering 36 per cent of young Muslims believe the act of leaving Islam deserves death.