The Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing, Inger Støjberg, writes on Facebook:
- It is crucial that as a Muslim in Denmark, you understand and respect that here in this country, freedom and equality mean more than a medieval interpretation of the Koran. This means that one for example can not require pork removed from the day-care or that there must be segregated swimming lessons. In this country, it is freedom that determines, and not Allah or the Prophet. One can refrain from eating meatballs or go swimming. You can not come and demand that we take into special account changes that impose restrictions on our way of life.
Støjberg is referring to an article in EB, where she explains what it means to try to defend the Danish values.
After visiting a mosque, where the message was that [boys and girls] training together was 'un-Islamic', Støjberg says she will continue to fight this view of women:
- We must get rid of this medieval view of women in modern Denmark.
- I have recently been asked if it is not directly harmful to Muslim women in Denmark if we prevent them from segregated swimming. If it in reality will be a setback for integration and it downright means that these women are now not going outside the home, as they can no longer swim behind drawn curtains? My answer is that fewer Muslim women probably are going to swim. At least in the short term. But it is clear that it is no setback for integration. On the contrary! It may well be that some of these women no longer go to swimming. We'll survive that. But these women, and especially their men, will get a clear message as to how we live in Denmark.
Should we just ban gender-segregated swimming? Adopt a quick law in Parliament?
- I do not think so. For it is quite extremely important that each of us take a stance against special demands. Nothing would in fact be easier than to legislate against the nuisance, which religious special demands in the public space are, but it is a duty to all of us to defend both equality and other freedoms in everyday life. We must stand by our values and every day defend it when there is pressure on to get for example pork completely out of the day care center or have segregated swimming.
I am fully aware of that discussions and conflicts are not always comfortable. But it can, in my opinion, go completely wrong if we every time there is an imminent conflict in this direction, take a step back to avoid these discussions. It concerns me increasingly, if we as Danes are staunch and proud enough of our own values; the very foundation of freedoms. Whether we have the courage to defend it in everyday life. It is precisely not just a question of law. It is very much a question of standing by our values daily. So we do not get 'scared' and push legislation in front of us when the requirement of special provision emerges. We must dare to put it bluntly to the Muslims in Denmark who require special provision: This is how do we live here, and that you must respect!, says Støjberg.
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