Denmark: Religious pressure in schools


Hat and thanks for the English Translation of the Danish


Children in Danish schools undergo religious harassment. This happens during the currently ongoing Muslim festival of Ramadan, when a group of Muslim students criticize their schoolmates for violating the fasting rules of Ramadan by easting and drinking during daylight hours, report several Danish schools with a high proportion of Muslim students. At Hillerødgade’s Skole in Copenhagen the problem has consequences.

“Some of the children who fast criticize the children who don’t fast. Therefore we have decided that children who fast should be excluded from the cafeteria area. So there will be a place to eat in the cafeteria without people having an attitude imposed on them, says health project leader Marika Jensen who has also seen some schoolchildren who are so afraid of being seen eating that they sneak into the cafeteria area not during the lunch break in order to get a bite to eat.

She explains that it’s typical for Muslim children whose parents want them to eat but who simply find it hard to explain to their Muslim friends that they eat and drink.

At Klostevænget’s Heldagsskole in Copenhagen the school inspector was surprised when she asked in an 8th grade class with a large Muslim population about fasting.

“Everybody said that they fasted. Even a boy of Danish background said that he did it, but I truly didn’t believe it. It was just to hard for him to sit with his bread with chopped liver among schoolmates who all fasted. I think that he goes home and eats his food later, and it was done out of tactical prudence by him,” says school inspector Karen-Margrethe Grønlund.

In Aarhus the Ramadan has also caused conflict.

“Some girls in the lower classes had gotten from their parents clear views on what they should avoid during Ramadan, and they wanted to share this with some friends. They explained what good Muslims did and what bad Muslims did. As a school we needed to deal with it and get involved, even if it was a sensitive topic, says school head Torben Haugård of Ellekærskolen.

Also in Tovshøjskolen in Århus teachers had to intervene with Muslim students who interfered with their classmates religion and eating habits.

Religious conflicts had previously been described as a problem among Muslim students at Syddansk University.

Lene Kühle, lecturer and PHD in religion sociology at Aarhus University, points out that there have also been conflicts among Muslim cashiers on whether to wear the headscarf during work or not. She think that Ramadan often increases the conflicts when the increased attention to being religious also increases attention to lapses.

The religion sociologist who had researched the Muslim communities in Denmark, has two reasons why religious conflicts arise among Danish Muslims.

“Islam becomes a weapon to bully others. People use a completely banal religious to assert themselves,” says Lene Kühle.

another reason is that Islam’s status as a minority religion in the West leads to self-appointed religious policemen. They are found in many places in society, among others in prisons, says Lene Kühle:

“Regular Muslim go around and impose on people a certain form of Islam. It goes together with that there aren’t others to do this in Denmark. If one could imagine that we had a mufti in the country, that said how people should act during Ramadan, then Muslims would have some basis – but now it’s up to the individual and it causes many interpretations and clashes.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)


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