Despite the fact that Ramadan is only observed by practicing Muslims, it can also impact the rest of Danish society, Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Støjberg of the Liberal Party wrote in an opinion piece published by the BT daily, urging Muslims to take a vacation on Ramadan in order not to endanger the lives of fellow Danes.
According to Støjberg, who is known for her hardline stance in immigration issues, argued that Ramadan means "some very practical security and productivity challenges in a modern society." Støjberg questioned the idea that a 1,400-year-old religious rite is still applicable to modern-day society and the labor market of Denmark anno 2018. She also stressed that observing Ramadan in today's world is a much larger challenge that it was in the 7th century. In particular, going almost 18 hours without food and drink is unsustainable if you have to take care of your job at the same time, Støjberg argued.
"Practically speaking, it can be a dangerous practice for us all if, say, the bus driver neither eats nor drinks anything during a full day. Likewise, one of course does not deliver or perform in the same way at the factory or in the hospital, if they do not eat or drink for a whole month during daylight hours," Støjberg wrote in her piece.
While stressing that she never wants to deprive Danish Muslims of the opportunity to practice their religion and take part in its festivities, emphasizing that the freedom of religion is still strong in Denmark, Støjberg nevertheless encouraged Muslims to take a vacation during Ramadan.
In a poll accompanying Støjberg's article, 68 percent of Danes supported her idea of Muslims going on leave during Ramadan.
Ramadan is Muslims' month of fasting and is aimed at reminding the believers of Prophet Muhammad's first revelation. It lasts 29-30 days and is considered to be one of Islam's five pillars. All food and drink between daybreak and sunset are forbidden, as well as smoking, sexual activity, quarrels and swearing. Exceptions from the rules include children and pregnant women, women on their period, the elderly, the sick, athletes and travelers. In 2018, Ramadan began at sunset on Tuesday 15 May and ends Thursday, 14 June.
Previously, the right-wing Danish People's Party has suggested stopping Ramadan-related celebrations at state institutions. According to the party, only Christian celebrations should be allowed.