A Danish minister has provoked outcry by labelling Muslims fasting for Ramadan a “danger”, and suggesting they take time off work during the week in order to reduce the risks to others.
Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s immigration Minister, made the comments in a newspaper column on Monday, in which she wrote that the country’s Muslims should “consider the consequences for society when they chose to [observe] Ramadan”.
She added that Muslims should stay home from work to reduce the risks to others in society. “I want to call on Muslims to take leave from work during the month of Ramadan to avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society,” she said.
The fast, which in Denmark can last more than 18 hours at its peak, was dubbed “a danger to all of us”, by Ms Stojberg.
She said there was a particular danger from those who work in hospitals and drivers of buses. Denmark’s largest bus company Arriva denied that any fasting drivers had ever been responsible for accidents. A spokesperson told local media: “So de facto it’s not a problem for us”.
Other members of Ms Stojberg’s centre-right Liberal party were also quick to distance themselves from the remarks. Fellow MP Jacob Jensen said: “Perhaps we politicians should concentrate on solving the real issues first …”
Another Liberal party member and former MP Fatma Oktem, who is of Turkish descent, said: “In Denmark there’s room for everybody - if you believe in Jesus, Allah or Buddha - as long as you mind your duties and take responsibility for your actions.”
Jan Villadsen, head of Denmark’s 3F transport union, suggested the minister was attempting to create a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.
This is not the first time Ms Stojberg has committed inflammatory actions. In March 2017, she celebrated the passing of an immigration law by posting a picture of a cake on Facebook. A few months later she shared the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed whose publication in 2005 led to more than 50 deaths across the globe in protests.
The previous year she was slammed for making reference to a widely debunked anecdote about a day care centre banning pork, suggesting that multiculturalism was to blame.
She has been dubbed ‘Iron Inger’ for her hardline positions on immigration and multiculturalism, and has presided over a clampdown on Muslims being accepted for asylum and immigration in the Scandinavian state.
Figures released earlier this month by a Danish newspaper suggest the number of Muslims successfully applying for Danish citizenship has more than halved since 2014.
Ms Stojberg's government even went as far as placing adverts in Turkish and Lebanese newspapers warning of the dire conditions faced by many refugees in Europe.
In 2016, she introduced a law forcing refugees to hand over their valuables at the border in order to contribute to the cost of hosting them in Denmark.