"Do you fast during Ramadan? You are a danger, so stay at home.” These were the words of Denmark’s Minister for Immigration and Integration, Inger Støjberg. She went on to say in her blog on Monday, "I call on Muslims to take a month's vacation during Ramadan, so that this holiday has no impact on Danish society." Støjberg, who represents Denmark’s center-right Liberal party, wrote that Muslims who want to respect Ramadan as one of the Five Pillars of Islam should stay at home. Støjberg questioned on her blog whether “commanding observance to a 1,400-year-old pillar of Islam” is compatible with modern society. 

The Muslim Union of Denmark criticized Støjberg’s remarks, stating in social media venues that  "adult Muslims are able to take care of themselves and of society, even when they fast.” Finnish Muslim Union chair Pia Jardi said the minister’s suggestion “a completely absurd idea,” and added, “There’s no information or statistics to show that bus drivers or other Muslim workers would somehow behave dangerously while fasting. In most Muslim countries, stores and businesses continue operating as normally.” 

Jan Villadsen, who leads a labor union of transportation workers, said that Stojberg is “creating a problem that does not exist." In her blog post that was published by BT, Støjberg wrote that bus drivers as being affected by refraining from food and drink during daylight hours of Ramadan. She asked Muslims to take leave from work “to avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society.” She wrote that Muslim fasting poses safety hazards bo some workers and is a practice that is “dangerous for us all.”

Millions of Muslims around the world, including Denmark’s 250,000 Muslims, began the observance of Ramadan last week. Denmark has a total population of 5.7 million. In 2016, Denmark adopted a law that requires newly arrived asylum seekers to surrender their valuables such as gold and jewelry to pay for their stay in the Scandinavian country.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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