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Injecting New Life? Denmark Sells Vaccine Production to Saudi Sharia Supporters

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Vaccine - Sputnik International
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Denmark's outgoing Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby is having a hard time explaining why the Danish government notoriously sold a state-owned vaccine manufacturing facility to a Saudi company with alleged links to proponents of extreme Islam after an unpleasant revelation by a Danish newspaper.

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The vaccine production facilities of the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI) have been sold to Aljomaih Group, which is owned by a Saudi family dynasty with alleged extremist links. Previously Aljomaih Group, which is led by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Hamad Aljomaih, had given donations to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political organization, via its bank Arcapita, the Danish tabloid newspaper Extra Bladet revealed. To make matters worse, the new owners are advocates of Sharia law and employ people who had previously encouraged a boycott of Denmark.

The 15 million DKK deal ($2.15mln) was initiated in 2014 under the previous government, led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, when a cross-party parliamentary finance committee approved of Aljomaih as a legitimate buyer. This happened despite the fact that Arcapita's Sharia committee is headed by a powerful Muslim cleric, Mohammed Taqi Usamani, who had previously called for a boycott of Denmark during the controversy about the Muhammad cartoons in 2006.

The Danish left-wing party Red-Green Alliance voiced deep concern about the newly surfaced details of the transaction.

"We've been against selling SSI's vaccine factory and diagnostics facilities from day one. We are talking about critical infrastructure that can impact on emergency preparedness against biological warfare and terror, and we don't think that should be sold to the private sector," Red-Green Alliance Pelle Dragsted told Extra Bladet, invoking traditional socialist arguments against privatization in general.

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Security concerns over a possible shortage of vaccines have been raised by other experts as well.

"One must be very careful when outsourcing key activities such as vaccine production to a country like Saudi Arabia," Middle East expert Helle Lykke Nielsen from the Southern Danish University told Extra Bladet, warning of unpredictable consequences for Danish healthcare.

Another cause of concern is that Aljomaih's subsidiary AJ Vaccines will deliver serum shots for Danish children for a period of at least 30 months.

"Selling key manufacturing facilities such as those producing vaccines to ideologically hostile countries which, for whatever reason, may abruptly decide to shut down production, does not sound like a good idea. Those who say that the Saudis are merely interested in profit like anyone else should know better," American terrorism expert Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and its Economic Warfare Institute, told Extra Bladet.

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The State Serum Institute, which was founded in 1902, is responsible for Denmark's preparedness against infectious diseases, congenital disorders and biological threats.

Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby defended the largely controversial deal by contending there was a shortage of prospective buyers. However, Trane Nørby is unlikely to face the consequences of this deal, as she is due to go on maternity leave on February 20 and will be replaced by incumbent Equality Minister Karen Ellemann.

 

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