Danish Politician Slammed For Saying Fasting Muslims Pose Work Safety Threat

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A Danish politician garnered criticism from her government’s leading coalition for claiming that Muslims fasting during Ramadan pose work safety threats and should stay home.

Integration Minister Inger Stoejberg made the comments in a blog post published Monday in which she urged Muslims in Denmark who observe Ramadan, which involves fasting from morning until sundown, to stay home from work “to avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society,” according to The Associated Press.

“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,” Stoejberg wrote, according to The Local dk. “I wonder if a religious order commanding observance to a 1,400-year-old pillar of Islam is compatible with the society and labor market that we have in Denmark in 2018.”

Karen Ellemann, chief whip of the Liberal Party, clarified on Tuesday that Stoejberg’s remarks did not represent an official change in policy or an attempt to change the law, and several other party members publicly denounced Stoejberg’s proposal. (RELATED: Dutch Politician Who Criticized Islam Appeals Discrimination Conviction)

“I don’t agree with Inger Stoejberg,” said senior party member Jacob Jensen according to AP, adding that “maybe we politicians should focus on finding solutions to the real problems first.”

Ellemann stated, however, that Stoejberg “had the right to start this debate.”

Members of Denmark’s Muslim community decried Stoejberg’s statement, saying that it was condescending toward Muslims and in poor taste.

Arriva, which employs many Muslims and is the largest bus operator in Denmark, said they had “never heard of a single case where the fasting has been a problem” and called Stoejberg’s statements “far out.” Ozlem Cekic, a former politician in Denmark’s  Socialist People’s Party called the remarks “a sad way to start Ramadan” while physician Abir Al-Kalemji claimed that the remarks “exposed her (Stoejberg’s) intolerance to immigrants,” according to AP.

Stoejberg has pushed for stricter immigration and asylum laws and gained infamy in 2006 for publishing a screenshot of her tablet background which was a cartoon of Muhammad.

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