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Hostilities Against Religion on the Rise in Denmark

Hostilities against religion have taken a turn for the worse in Denmark as more and more incidents of attacks on Christians, discrimination on Muslims, and other religious-related disturbances have hit the Scandinavian country in recent years.

Migrants in Denmark
Migrants at Denmark's Padborg Station, after crossing over the border from Germany. |

According to the U.S.-based research firm Pew Research Center, Denmark is among the countries in Europe that saw an increase in hostilities against religion, along with the United Kingdom.

Recent years saw a rise in attacks related to religion in the country.

In 2015, an attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen left three dead. One of the fatalities was part of the building's security as people were celebrating a bar mitzvah inside.

Hours before that, a man armed with a machine gun opened fire on a cultural center where a forum on freedom of speech and Islam was being held. The shooting killed two people and wounded five policemen.

In another incident, a man was arrested for torching a building in Copenhagen used by the Islamic Society.

According to a report from the nonprofit Aid to the Church, while the country allows anyone to practice their own religion, it draws the line when it comes to disturbance of "the public order."

The government is believed to be partial to the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) despite allowing other religions in the country. The ELC is the only religious group that gets support and funding from the state.

Because of the influx of refugees fleeing war-torn countries and migrating to Europe, Denmark's cultural identity is now facing challenges. Some right-wing groups in the government seem bent on keeping the status quo, at least when it comes to religion.

In February, the Danish People's Party strongly recommended that immigrants in the country should join Danish citizens in celebrating Christian festivities such as Christmas and Easter if they want to be considered as Danes.

"We believe that those who come to this country should make as much effort as possible to become Danes," said DPP spokesman Martin Henriksen to Jyllands-Posten. "And to do that you need to understand Christianity and its importance to Danish people."

Many opposed the idea as "un-Danish" and called out the party for its viewpoint that to blend in the country, one must also blend in with the national religion.

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