Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Word "Imam" used condescendingly by Danish top politicians


It is symptomatic of the islamophobic intellectual climate in Denmark that the word "imam" is being used condescendingly by Danish top politicians without their even thinking about it. These politicians would never dream of using the word "bishop" in the same way.

The Danish welfare debate is raging at full speed. Disagreement has broken out between socialdemocratic mayors in some of the largest cities and the conservative-liberalist government about the level of welfare spending and the distribution of expenses between the state and the municipalitities. Lars Lokke Rasmussen, home secretary and second in the political hierarchy under the PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has said about his political opponent, social democratic lord mayor of Aarhus Nicolai Wammen that the latter "talks equivocally like an imam". Anders Fogh Rasmussen has supported his second in command and said that the latter has put it "succinctly".

What they call back in memory is the journey to the Middle East by Danish imams that triggered the Mohammed cartoons crisis. It was said at the time that the imams "spoke with two tongues", one when in Denmark and defending Denmark, and with another tongue in the Middle East when defending the prophet against defamation. Whether this is correct or not, is not the point. It is not a generally recognised attribute of an imam to speak with two tongues.

These two politicians are role models for a large number of Danes. Therefore they ought to be careful not to spread more hate speech than that which is already around.

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