Danish minister says Muslims fasting for Ramadan pose danger
A Danish government minister has asserted that Muslims shouldn't work during Ramadan because the month-long fasting period poses safety hazards in some professions and makes the practice "dangerous for us all".
Integration Minister Inger Stoejberg, an immigration hardliner in Denmark's centre-right government, questioned in a blog post published on Monday how "commanding observance to a 1,400-year-old pillar of Islam" was compatible with modern labour markets.
In her post, which was published by Danish tabloid BT, Stoejberg cited bus drivers as an example of workers whose performance could be affected by foregoing food and drink during daylight hours of the holy month.
She urged all Muslims in the Nordic country to take leave from work during Ramadan "to avoid negative consequences for the rest of Danish society."
Finnish Muslim Union Chairwoman Pia Jardi called the minister's suggestion "a completely absurd idea."
"There's no information or statistics to show that bus drivers or other Muslim workers would somehow behave dangerously while fasting," Jardi said. "In most Muslim countries, stores and businesses continue operating normally."
Muslims committed to fasting also "have the responsibility to make sure that they get proper rest," she said.
Millions of Muslims around the world began observing Ramadan last week. Some 250,000 Muslims are estimated to live in Denmark, a country of 5.7 million.
Stoejberg is a member of the conservative Liberal Party that alone forms Denmark's current minority government, led by Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen since 2015.
In the past few years, she has become the spokeswoman for the government's substantial tightening of asylum and immigration rules. Denmark adopted a law in 2016 requiring newly arrived asylum-seekers to hand over valuables such jewellery and gold to help pay for their stays in the country. (AP)