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By: Dennis Prager

Jewish World Review August 27, 2002 / 19 Elul, 5762

What Denmark can teach America about dealing with Muslims --- and what we ignore at our own risk

By Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard |A Muslim organization in Denmark announced a few days ago that a $30,000 bounty would be paid for the murder of several prominent Danish Jews, a threat that garnered wide international notice. Less well known is that this is just one problem associated with Denmark's approximately 200,000 Muslim immigrants. The key issue is that many of them show little desire to fit into their adopted country.

For years, Danes lauded multiculturalism and insisted they had no problem with the Muslim customs - until one day they found that they did. Some major issues:

Other Europeans (such as the late Pim Fortuyn in Holland) have also grown alarmed about these issues, but Danes first made them the basis for a change in government.

In a momentous election last November, a center-right coalition came to power that - for the first time since 1929 - excluded the socialists. The right broke its 72-year losing streak and won a solid parliamentary majority because it promised to handle immigration issues, the electorate's first concern, differently from the socialists.

The next nine months did witness some fine-tuning of procedures: immigrants now must live seven years in Denmark (rather than three) to become permanent residents; most non-refugees no longer can collect welfare checks immediately on entering the country; and no one can bring into the country a spouse under the age of 24. The state prosecutor is considering a ban on Hizb-ut-Tahrir for its death threats against Jews.

These minor adjustments prompted howls internationally - with European and UN reports condemning Denmark for racism and "Islamophobia," the Washington Post reporting that Muslim immigrants "face habitual discrimination," and a London Guardian headline announcing that "Copenhagen Flirts with Fascism."

In reality, however, the new government barely addressed the existing problems. Nor did it prevent new ones, such as the death threats against Jews or a recent Islamic edict calling on Muslims to drive Danes out of the Nørrebro quarter of Copenhagen.

The authorities remain indulgent. The military mulls permitting Muslim soldiers in Denmark's volunteer International Brigade to opt out of actions they don't agree with - a privilege unique to them. Mohammed Omar Bakri, the self-proclaimed London-based "eyes, ears and mouth" of Osama bin Laden, won permission to set up a branch of his organization, Al-Muhajiroun.

Contrary to media reports, the real news from Denmark is not flirting with fascism but getting mired in inertia. A government elected specifically to deal with a set of problems has made minimal headway. Its reluctance has potentially profound implications for the West as a whole.

JWR contributor Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, most recently Militant Islam Reaches America. Lars Hedegaard is a regular contributor to two Copenhagen newspapers, Berlingske Tidende and Weekendavisen. Comment by clicking here.

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