Voting guide reveals frustration of Danish Muslims

Immigration dominated the Danish election, leaving Muslims little to vote for

Danish Election
Danish People's Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl (DF) sings a song upon his arrival at the Danish People's Party election party in Snapstinget at Christiansborg on election day, June 18, 2015.REUTERS/Keld Navntoft/Scanpix

A Muslim voting guide surfaced this week in the run-up to Denmark's hotly anticipated elections, concluding that there are not enough candidates in Denmark who represent the interests of Muslims.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt conceded defeat in Thursday's general election after the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DF), scored a record vote to become the second-largest party, lifting the opposition right-wing bloc to victory. The DF has become the largest right-wing party for the first time, taking more than 21% of the vote and 37 seats in the country's 179-seat parliament.

The DF has since demanded stricter border controls to stem the tide of migrants arriving into the country. The chief editor of the centre-left Danish newspaper Politiken described the election outcome as "a dangerous experiment".

The authors of the guide chose to remain anonymous, according to Imran Shah, spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Denmark, who republished the guide on the organisation's website, but the people behind it wish to establish their own political party in late summer, "which will represent the interests of Muslim voters more so than the established parties have done up until today", he says.

The guide begins: "This guide is made as a service to Muslim voters for the general election in 2015. The aim is not to promote specific candidates or parties, but the intention is to make it easier for Muslims to choose. In this way, we want to help Muslim voters to adopt a more politically conscious choice when they choose to cast their vote."

Among the findings are that 91% of the Danish People's Party candidates believe that Islam is a threat to freedom, while 68% of all party candidates reviewed in the guide want to ban male circumcision.

The guide examines the views of 232 candidates from all parties from all over the country by examining statements they have made in the press on certain issues, such as whether

more mosques should be built in the country, whether there should there be a ban on male circumcision, whether Islam is a threat to freedom, and questions about Denmark's asylum policies.

"What is really striking about this guide is how few political candidates there are who are willing to cater for Muslim voters," says Shah. As for the election result, he says: "As Muslims, we're always ready to be optimistic, but with the DF we are dealing with a party that is working against female public workers and pupils who choose to wear the hijab - that is the kind of party we are talking about. For Muslims, this election result paints a bleak picture".

The number of asylum seekers arriving in Denmark doubled last year to more than 14,000 people, due to an influx of refugees from Syria, and the issue of immigration is often spoken about in the media as referring to the country's Muslims. There are around 250,000 Muslims in Denmark.

Immigration was one of the most pressing topics in the run-up to Denmark's tightly fought election.

According to the European Network Against Racism, in the debates that preceded the election, "rather than proposing concrete solutions on how to improve the dire situation faced by an increasing number of Danes, some parties from both the right- and left-wing blocks preferred to focus on the tightening of asylum laws, Islamic extremism, parallel societies, criminality among minorities, and how much minorities from non-European countries cost society."

"They are changing society," the DF leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl said of Danish Muslims in an interview with Reuters earlier this month. "We are not in favour of having for example a mosque's call for prayer. It's not that they are Muslim, that is not the problem. It is that people coming to Denmark, living in Denmark, must respect the society."

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