14:27 GMT01 June 2020
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    While Denmark seeks to throttle foreign donations to religious communities and institutions if they are deemed to undermine the country's fundamental freedoms and democracy, experts warn of a diplomatic backlash.

    Denmark's government, supported by the right-wing Danish People's Party, is preparing legislation that would make it possible to ban foreign authorities' donations to religious communities and institutions, the Christian newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad reported.

    The law will be implemented if the donations are assessed to pose a security threat and undermine Denmark's fundamental freedoms and democracy. The ban will cover loans, gifts, donation of equipment, financial aid to staff and even hiring premises.

    According to the newspaper, extensive support to mosques from countries such as Qatar and Turkey is one of the primary reasons for the ban.

    "We have been extremely frustrated by the examples of mosques funded from abroad. And I am sure that a ban on foreign donations will stop the cash flow", Martin Henriksen, the Danish People's Party's foreign spokesman, said.

    In recent years, there have been several examples of high-profile Turkish investments in mosques across Denmark. The most notable examples include Roskilde and Holbæk, both of which have sparked controversy. The Danish People's Party argued that Denmark needed "more industry, not mosques" and deemed it a problem that the imams are on Turkey's payroll, TV Øst reported.

    READ MORE: Saudi Sponsorship of Swedish Schools Prompts Islamist Scare

    Qatar remains yet another big investor in mosques on Danish soil. The oil-rich Gulf state is believed to have donated around DKK 100 million ($15 million) for the construction of a large mosque in Copenhagen's Nørrebro district, which opened in 2014.

    The government has been working to ban money donations from Denmark and abroad to associations and religious communities since the New Year. According to Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, the creation of a "black list" may result in political backlash for Denmark.

    "It is clear that it can be perceived as harassment in Turkey, as well as another example of inequality", Banke suggested.

    According to a 2018 estimate, Denmark, a nation of 5.5 million, had a Muslim population of slightly over 300,000 (or 5.3 percent), which is increasing due to immigration.

    READ MORE: Imam From Controversial Mosque Praises Denmark's Exit Programme for Jihadis

    Until the late 20th century, most Muslims were guest workers from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and the former Yugoslavia. In the 21st century, the majority of Muslim arrivals were asylum seekers from Iraq, Somalia and Syria.


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