Muslim Action Committee

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

786
Danish Imams Key to Social Harmony
By Nidal Abu Arif, IOL Correspondent
http://www.islam-online.ne

COPENHAGEN – Imams in Denmark are believed to be playing a pivotal role in resolving disputes and squabbles in Muslim-populated areas of the Scandinavian country.
"We are trying our best to project a positive image of Islam and Muslims in Denmark," Imam Ghassan Edwan told IslamOnline.net. "We are helping police maintain order in areas densely populated by Muslims, but we don't interfere in their business," he stressed. Edwan said that imams basically focus on social problems. Danish daily Politiken highlighted in a report on Sunday, May 28, the key social role of imams in the country's three biggest cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense. Manu Sareen, a Copenhagen municipality integration adviser, told the paper that imams impressively serve as intermediaries to resolve a lot of everyday social problems facing Muslims at a request from Danish authorities.Inge Leingaard, a University of Aarhus researcher, said many Muslims tend to iron out their differences themselves thanks to imams' intervention. Lars Bro, a local police chief in Aarhus, said imams were doing police a big favor."They spare us a lot of extra work and I really appreciate that," he told the daily.

Respect

Edwan said their good offices appeal to many Muslims nationwide."Danish Muslims, especially the second generation, hold imams at high esteem and appreciate the role we are playing," he said. The imam hoped that Danish authorities would do more to enhance their cooperation with imams in the future."I wish that the government would prove more forthcoming and help us in our integration efforts, which strike the right balance between our Islamic identity and Danish values," he noted. Imams in Denmark have been under fire from government circles on charges of triggering the controversy that erupted earlier this year over the publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Denmark's Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen in March called for the expulsion of several imams on the same ground.The imams hit back, arguing that they had to "internationalize" the cartoons issue after their complaints to the government fell on deaf ears.

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