Islam in Denmark
|Islam by country|
Islam in Denmark being the country's largest minority religion plays a role in shaping its social and religious landscape. According to a 2018 estimate, little more than 300.000 people or 5.3% of the population in Denmark is Muslim. The figure has been increasing for the last several decades. In 2009, the U.S. Department of State reported the share as approximately 3.7% of the population. Earlier sources, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, have cited lower percentages. However, according to figures reported by the BBC in 2005, about 270 thousand Muslims lived in Denmark at the time (4.8% out of a population of 5.6 million).
The majority of Muslims in Denmark are Sunni, with a sizeable Shia minority. Other Islamic denominations represented in Denmark include Ahmadiyya. In the 1970s Muslims arrived from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and the former Yugoslavia to work. In the 1980s and 90s the majority of Muslim arrivals were refugees and asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia. In addition, some ethnic Danes have converted to Islam; an estimated 2,800 Danes have converted and about seventy Danes convert every year.
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Branches
- 4 Identity
- 5 Religiosity
- 6 Culture
- 7 Education
- 8 Religious issues
- 9 Politics
- 10 Religious infrastructure
- 11 Controversy
- 12 Discrimination
- 13 Noted Danish Muslims
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Sources
Danish historian Jørgen Bæk Simonsen documents that encounters between Denmark and the Muslim world date back to the Middle Ages when the Danish military participated in the Crusades to take control of Jerusalem from Muslim rule. King Frederick V of Denmark also travelled to South Arabia to collect information, plants, and artifacts. Among his co-voyagers was Carsten Niebuhr who observed and noted the customs of the region. One of the first Danish converts to Islam was Knud Holmboe, a journalist and writer of Desert Encounter, in which he detailed his first-hand account of the Libyan Genocide.
A 1880 Danish census recorded 8 "Mohammadans" in the country. Censuses continued to be carried out until 1970. Large scale immigration from Muslim countries began in the 1950s. The first purpose-built mosques belonged to Ahmadi Muslims and was constructed in 1967. In 1973, the Danish government stopped free migration to the country. Rules were laxed in 1974 so that people with family in Denmark, people marrying someone in Denmark, or people seeking asylum could come to the country.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution of Denmark, but the Church of Denmark enjoys certain privileges such as state subsidies that other religious groups in the country do not. As of 2013, 23 different Muslim communities are recognized as "acknowledged religious communities," giving them certain tax benefits.
The asylum seekers comprise about 40% of the Danish Muslim population.
In August 2017, two imams, one of which is the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Australia were added to the Danish list of hate preachers which meant they could not enter Denmark, bringing the total to ten. The list also comprised Salman al-Ouda and Bilal Philips.
In autumn 2017, the Danish parliament (Danish: Folketinget) agreed to adopt a law prohibiting people to wear "attire and clothing masking the face in such a way that it impairs recognizability".  A full ban on both niqabs and burqas was announced on 31 May 2018. The ban came into force on 1 August 2018 and carries a fine of 1000 DKK, about 134 euro, by repeat offending the fine may reach 10 000 DKK. Then targets all garments that covers the face, such as fake beards or balaclavas. Supporters of the ban claim that the ban facilitates integration of Muslims into Danish society while Amnesty International claimed the ban violated women's rights. A protest numbering 300-400 people was held in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen organised by Socialist Youth Front, Kvinder i Dialog and Party Rebels.
According to polls among Muslims in Denmark conducted in 2006 and 2018, religiosity shows an escalation over time, whereas 37% prayed five times a day in 2006, by 2018 this number had increased to 50%. This was contrary to expectation where Muslims had been expected to conform to mainstream Danish society where not many people are not particularly devoted to religion. The possible cause of the trend, according to sociologist Brian Arly Jacobsen at Copenhagen University was that in the construction of 20-30 new mosques in the intervening 10 years.
The Danish government does not collect data on citizens' religion so the exact number of Muslims in Denmark is not known with certainty. The Danish researcher Brian Jacobsen, who makes regular estimations based on the national origin of immigrants and their descendants, estimates that by October 2017 Muslims made up 306.000 persons or 5.3% of the Danish population. Over 70% of Muslims in Denmark are Danish citizens, and the majority are first- or second-generation immigrants. In 2013, roughly 2,000 to 5,000 Danish Muslims were converts to the religion. Muslims are unevenly distributed around Denmark with the majority concentrated in major cities. Approximately 47.4% of Danish Muslims live in Greater Copenhagen, 9.4% in Aarhus, and 5.5% in Odense.
In 2014, the largest ethnic group of Muslims in Denmark were Turks (22.2% of all Danish Muslims), followed by Iraqis (10.2%), Lebanese (9.5%), Pakistanis (8.7%), Somalis (7.3%), and Afghanis (6.3%).
According to a 2008 survey of immigrants to Denmark from Muslim-majority countries by IntegrationsStatus, 45% were Sunni, 11% were Shia, and 23% belonged to another branch of Islam (such as Ahmadi, etc.). The other 21% belonged to another religion or had no religion.
A 2002/2003 study of Danish youth in upper secondary school found that 100% of Muslims believed in God and 90% believed in heaven, hell, angels and devils. Only 52% of non-Muslim Danes in the survey said they believed in God while 15-25% said they believed in heaven, hell, angels and devils. Roughly half of the Muslims in the survey said they prayed often, while a third claimed to visit a mosque once a month. In a 2005 survey, 40% of Muslim immigrants and their descendants participated in religious ceremonies/services compared to 60% of Roman Catholic immigrants/ descendants did the same. In a 2008 survey of immigrants from Turkey, Pakistan, ex-Yugoslavia, Iran, Iraq, and Somalia, 37% considered themselves very little/little religious, 33% considered themselves moderately religious, 24% considered themselves very religious. A 2011 survey found that 37% of Danish Muslims were non-practicing Muslims.
In a 2006 survey, 82% of Danish Muslim parents answered that religion was an important issue in the ubringing of children compared to 67% of Danish non-Muslims who answered the same.
Roughly 3,000 Shia Muslims march annually in Nørrebro during Ashura. Since 2011, Muslim organizations such as the Danish Muslim Union and Minhaj-ul-Qur'an have held a "Peace March" to celebrate Mawlid with hundreds in attendance.
In September 2017, the Danish bureau Unique Models became the first and only fashion agency in the country to include a Muslim woman who wears a hijab when they hired the 21-year-old Amina Adan.
Several Sunni Muslim youth organizations work to make contact with Danish society as a whole by inviting locals to mosques and representing Islam in a positive light. In 1996, the Islamic-Christian Study Centre was set up by Muslims and Christians. It has an equal number of Muslims and Christians as board members and strives to build positive relations between citizens of both religions. The members focus on counselling, lectures, study groups, excursions, and publications. A report titled Conversation Promotes Understanding published by the Church of Denmark in 2000 put an emphasis on increasing dialogue with Muslims. Margrethe Vestager, the then Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs, supported the conclusion of the report. The Church of Denmark has held friendship dinners for Muslims during Ramadan and Christmas.
Annette H. Ihle’s 2007 study of Muslim School (also called Free Schools) have a higher rate of students continuing into high school than national public schools (41% to 26%). A more recent 2016 analysis by the politically independent think-tank Kraka concluded that students with a non-western background attending Muslim private schools achieved significantly better grades in their 9th grade exit examinations than their counterparts at Danish public schools. The difference between the students' final examination marks was 1.4 grade points–an average 4.6 at the public schools and 6.0 at the Muslim private schools.
Other mosques exist but are not built for the explicit purpose. It is not forbidden to build mosques or any other religious buildings in Denmark but there are very strict zoning laws. One piece of land has been reserved for a grand mosque at Amager (near Copenhagen), but financing is not settled. Danish Muslims have not succeeded in cooperating on the financing of the project and do not agree on whether it should be financed with outside sources, such as Saudi money. Advertisements by the Danish People's Party, which promote anti-mosque legislation, contend that Iran and Saudi Arabia are sources of funding. These are considered despotic regimes by the DPP.
Seven Danish cemeteries have separate sections for Muslims. Most of the Danish Muslims are buried in those cemeteries, with about 70 being flown abroad for burial in their countries of origin. A separate Muslim cemetery was opened in Brøndby near Copenhagen in September 2006.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of State released a report on religious freedom in Denmark. One finding was that there were a few isolated incidents of discrimination against immigrants, which included desecration of graves:
There were isolated incidents of anti-immigrant sentiment, including graffiti, low-level assaults, denial of service, and employment discrimination on racial grounds. Societal discrimination against religious minorities was difficult to distinguish from discrimination against ethnic minorities. The Government criticized the incidents and investigated several, but it brought few cases to trial specifically on charges of racial discrimination or hate crimes. Reports continued of incidents of desecration of ethnic and religious minority gravesites.
Masjid Al-Faruq mosque
In May 2017 an imam of the Masjid Al-Faruq mosque in Nørrebro held a service where he preached a vision of the caliphate and the murder of Jews. The sermon was uploaded to Youtube and after having been translated, it was reported to police as a hate crime. The trial began in July 2018. In a Facebook post, the imam claimed that the Denmark had criminalised the words of his prophet and the word of his deity.The Masjid Al-Faruq mosque also appeared in the 2015 Copenhagen terrorist attack as perpetrator Omar el-Hussein had visited there.When TV2 reporters visited the mosque for two hours, they did not find any visitors who rejected the views of the imam.
In 2014, regional police authorities (Danish: Østjyllands Politi) found that of the 27 individuals who had travelled from the Gellerup area to participate in the war in Syria and Iraq, 22 had been visitors to Grimhøj mosque. The former chairman of the mosque Oussama El-Saadi was killed and previously in a 2014 DR documentary about the mosque he expressed sympathies for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In 2016 journalists visited the Grimhøj mosque with a hidden camera and imam Abu Bilal preached that women who were unfaithful to their husbands should be be stoned to death or whipped and infidels (who did not take part in Ramadan fasting) should be killed.
In 2007, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman named Asmaa Abdol-Hamid attempted to run for parliament but her candidacy was rejected by the Red-Green Alliance and the Socialist People's Party due to her religious dress. Danish People's Party MP Søren Krarup compared Abdol-Hamid’s headscarf to a Nazi swastika, saying they were both symbols of totalitarianism. Anthropologist Mikkel Rytter stated that there is a "'litmus-test' of Muslim politicians" regarding whether a practicing Muslim could be trusted to protect human rights and separation of church and state in government.
In 2014, three Muslim brothers formed the National Party to focus on what they saw as an attack on traditional Danish values of tolerance and openness. The political party focuses on anti-racism and allowing public expression of religion.
A 2006 report estimated that 20% to 25% of Danish Muslims were associated with a mosque association. Sociologist of religion, Lene Kühle, estimated in 2006 that there were 115 mosques in Denmark. Of these, 11 were Shia, and 2 were Ahmadi.
In Denmark, religious studies is named "Christian studies" and focuses on the Church of Denmark. Parents have the right to withdraw their students from these religious courses but Muslim parents rarely do. The first Muslim private school was founded in 1978 and called the Islamic Arabic School (Danish: Islamisk Arabiske Skole) in Helsingør. Since then, over 30 such schools have been opened and many offer Arabic language classes and Islamic studies. However, the majority of Muslim students still go to non-religious public schools.
The biggest school is Dia Privatskole in Nørrebro with about 410 students. Two Pakistani schools teach in Urdu as mother tongue and several Turkish schools have Turkish instruction. Most other schools cater to Arabic-speaking students.
In July 2017 study material in Arabic which promoted martyrdom and jihadism was found in the Islamic school Nordvest Privatskole (tr: Northwest Private School) in Copenhagen during an unannounced visit by Danish education authorities. The school's building was sold in June 2017 to the investor Ali Laibi Jabbar from shia Almuntadar congregation in Malmö. Danish school inspection did not believe the principal of Nordvest when he claimed the investor would have no influence in how the school is run and stopped state funding of the school.
In Iqra Privatskole in Copenhagen immigrant-dominated district of Nørrebro it was discovered that vice principal and imam Shahid Mehdi for years had run a web page where he discouraged Muslim youth from having non-Muslim friends. Shahid Mehdi was sentenced in Malmö for having sexually assaulted a woman in a park by baring his genitals and chasing her. As a result of these investigations, the school was placed under stricter supervision by authorities.
The Roser Skolen in Odense was placed under supervision by authorities during the investigation about whether controversial imam Abu Bashar from Vollsmose are running the school through front men after it was discovered his 28-year-old son was hired in a managerial position at the school.
- Islam i Danmark (Islam in Denmark [acronym, 'IslamDK']), founded in 2007, based in Copenhagen.
- Foreningen af Demokratiske Muslimer (The organization of democratic Muslims), founded by Naser Khader in 2006. Its current chairman is Moustapha Kassem.
- Islamisk Trossamfund, Sunni Muslim, with strong Salafi tendencies, run by Mostafa Chendid, a Moroccan-born Danish imam.
- Muslimer i Dialog (Muslims in Dialogue), largely Sunni, run by Noman Malik and Abdul Wahid Pedersen. Their spokesman is Zubair Butt Hussain.
- Hizb ut-Tahrir, mainly Sunni. (50-500 members)
- Foreningen Salam (Salam Association) is run by Shia Muslim women.
- UngeMuslimer Gruppen, (Young Muslims Group), Shia Muslim, based in Copenhagen.
- Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Denmark, part of the Ahmadiyya movement
- Wilayah Organisationen, (Wilayah Organization), Shia Muslim, based in Copenhagen.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Denmark upheld a law allowed business to ban women from wearing headscarves as part of a uniform. In 2009, judges and jurors were banned from wearing any religious symbols, including headscarves. The law was met with opposition by several bar associations. Some schools have banned face veils in class. The Danish People's Party has called for a ban on face veils nationwide as well as a ban on headscarves in parliament but neither of these proposals have passed as of 2013.
Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten printed 12 caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in September 2005. These cartoons sparked an international controversy, ultimately resulting in the scorching of two Danish diplomatic missions, a boycott of Danish goods in several countries, and a large number of protests around the world. The number of protests caused an increase in support for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party.
In February 2006 after the escalation of the cartoons controversy the political organization Democratic Muslims (Danish: Demokratiske muslimer) was founded by Naser Khader, Yildiz Akdogan and other Muslims. Its goal is a peaceful co-existence of Islam and democracy. Naser Khader left his position as leader in 2007. In 2009 and 2011, it was reported that the organization had few members and little activity.
In August 2013 Ahmed Akkari, who had taken a major role in the affair and was the spokesman for a tour of Imams to the Middle East to protest the cartoons, expressed his regret for his role in the Imams' tour of the Middle East, stating that "I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong. At that time, I was so fascinated with this logical force in the Islamic mindset that I could not see the greater picture. I was convinced it was a fight for my faith, Islam." Still a practising Muslim, he said that printing the cartoons was ok and he personally apologised to the cartoonist Westergaard. Westergaard responded by saying "I met a man who has converted from being an Islamist to become a humanist who understands the values of our society. To me, he is really sincere, convincing and strong in his views." A spokesman for the Islamic Society of Denmark said "It is still not OK to publish drawings of Muhammad. We have not changed our position."
Islamism and terrorism
In 2014, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service estimated that roughly 100 people from Denmark had travelled to fight in the Syrian Civil War. The Economist reported that, per capita, Denmark has the second largest group of citizens fighting in Syria from a Western country. The Danish National Centre for Social Research released a report commissioned by the Ministry of Children, Integration and Social Affairs documenting 15 extremist groups operating in Denmark. The majority of these organizations were non-Muslim far-right or far-left groups, but five were Islamist groups. These Islamist groups include Hizb ut-Tahrir, Dawah-bœrere (Dawah Carriers), Kaldet til Islam (The Call to Islam), Dawah-centret (The Dawah Centre), and the Muslimsk Ungdomscenter (The Muslim Youth Centre). All of these Islamist groups operate in Greater Copenhagen with the exception of Muslimsk Ungdomscenter, which operates in Aarhus. Altogether, roughly 195 to 415 Muslims belong to one of these organizations and most are young men.
In 2014, thousands of Muslims in Copenhagen and Aarhus protested against ISIS. The initiative was titled "Vi siger NEJ til (U)Islamisk stat!" or "We say NO to an (un)Islamic state" and it was endorsed by Muslimernes Fællesråd (The United Council of Muslims).
A 2008 study by Brian Arly Jacobsen compared parliamentary debates over Islam from 1967-2005 to parliamentary debates of Jewish immigrants from 1903-1925. The study concluded that while both minority groups have been seen as alien, Jews were often seen as biologically and racially different whereas Muslims are seen having a culture incompatible with Danish society.
In 2015, about 200 Danes in Copenhagen wielding torches and placards marched in Denmark's first anti-Islam PEGIDA rally. The protesters marched from the National Art Museum to The Little Mermaid, and were opposed along the way in Nørrebro by anti-racist counter-demonstrators holding signs reading "Refugees and Muslims are welcome." Some Muslims attended a counter-protest nearby and despite confrontations with PEGIDA supporters no violence ensued.
Noted Danish Muslims
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- Ahmad Abu Laban
- Ahmed Akkari
- Asmaa Abdol-Hamid
- Dar Salim
- Isam Bachiri
- Naser Khader
- Omar Marzouk
- Özlem Cekic
- Ahmadiyya in Denmark
- Religion in Denmark
- Turks in Denmark
- Iraqis in Denmark
- Syrians in Denmark
- Somalis in Denmark
- Iranians in Denmark
- "2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Denmark". United States Department of State. 17 November 2010. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Hvor mange muslimer bor der i Danmark?". religion.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 2018-02-08.
- "Visiting Denmark". islam.dk. Archived from the original on 1 July 2001. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 February 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-08.
- "Denmark at CIA – The World Factbook". The World Factbook. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
- Other sources show some variation on these figures. For example, the 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Denmark gives a figure of about 200,000. See: A report at the UNHCR website
- "Population in Denmark". Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- "Muslims in Europe: Country guide". BBC News. 23 December 2005. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "An increasing number of Danes are converting to Islam". euro-islam.info. Euro-Islam: News and Analysis on Islam in Europe and North America. 21 February 2010. Missing or empty
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- "Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says 'animal rights come before religion'". The Independent. 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
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- "Denmark is about to ban the burqa".
- Pilditch, David (9 October 2017). "Denmark burka ban: Scandinavian country set to become latest to ban full-face veils".
- "Denmark passes ban on niqabs and burkas". BBC News. 31 May 2018. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- "Fra i dag kan Ayesha få en bøde for at gå på gaden: 'Jeg tager aldrig min niqab af'". DR (in Danish). Retrieved 2018-08-03.
- "Joining other European countries, Denmark bans full-face veil in public - France 24". France 24. 2018-05-31. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
- "Hestehoveder og niqaber: Demonstranter dækker ansigtet til i protest mod forbud". DR (in Danish). Retrieved 2018-08-03.
- "Danske muslimer går mere op i bøn, tørklæder og Koranen" (in Danish). Retrieved 2018-09-26.
- Jacobsen 2015, pp. 193–194
- Cesari 2014, p. 391
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- "Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey: Muslims – Selected findings". Fundamental Rights Agency. 21 September 2017. p. 20. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Cesari 2014, pp. 402–403
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- "Danish fashion agency hires first hijab-wearing model". The Local. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
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- Making a Mosque, Realizing a Community Archived 6 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine., Helene Hemme Goldberg and Abigail Krasner (PDF)
- "Prædiken i dansk moské ses som opfordring til drab på jøder". Kristeligt Dagblad (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-05-25.
- "Imam tiltalt for at bifalde drab på jøder for første gang nogensinde". nyheder.tv2.dk (in Danish). 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
- "Imam prædiker om jødedrab: - Jeg tror ikke, han mener noget ondt med det - TV 2". nyheder.tv2.dk (in Danish). 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
- "Moskeen, man gang på gang forsøger at lukke". www.b.dk (in Danish). 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
- Magnus Ranstorp, Filip Ahlin, Peder Hyllengren, Magnus Normark. Mellan salafism och salafistisk jihadism - Påverkan mot och utmaningar för det svenska samhället (PDF). 2018: Swedish Defence University. p. 131. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2018.
- Larsson 2009, p. 48
- Larsson 2009, p. 49
- Jacobsen 2015, pp. 190–191
- Jacobsen 2014, p. 198
- Historien om de muslimske friskoler, Danmarks Radio.
- "Lærebøger om jihad fundet i kopirum på muslimsk friskole". www.b.dk (in Danish). 2017-07-14. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- "Forstå balladen om de muslimske friskoler på fire minutter". www.b.dk (in Danish). 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
- "Staten stopper tilskud til endnu en friskole: Her er mødet, der vakte særlig undren". www.bt.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-09-10.
- Muslimer i Dialog
- Jacobsen 2014, p. 194
- "Salam - Foreningen for unge muslimske kvinder". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- "unge muslimer gruppens officielle hjemmeside". Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
- "Wilayah Organisationens hjemmeside". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
- Jacobsen 2014, p. 203
- Browne, Anthony (31 January 2006). "Denmark faces international boycott over Muslim cartoons". TimesOnline.
- Nærland, Mina Hauge (9 March 2006). "Kraftig høyrebølge i Skandinavia". Dagbladet.
- Ritzau: Ny formand for Demokratiske Muslimer Kristeligt Dagblad, (in Danish) 26 February 2007
- Naser Khaders ry bremser muslimsk forening (in Danish) Berlingske Tidende, 16 February 2009
- De demokratiske muslimer – hvor blev de af? Archived 24 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Danish), Sappho.dk, 13 January 2011
- "Ahmad Akkari, Danish Muslim: I was wrong to damn Muhammad cartoons". The Guardian. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Jacobsen 2015, p. 187
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- Jacobsen 2015, pp. 192–193
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- Brabant, Malcolm (22 January 2015). "PEGIDA Denmark takes cue from Germany". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Cesari, Jocelyne (2014). The Oxford Handbook of European Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199607976.
- Jacobsen, Brian Arly (31 October 2014). "Denmark". In Nielsen, Jørgen; Akgönül, Samim; Alibašić, Ahmet; Racius, Egdunas. Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 6. BRILL. ISBN 9789004283053. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- Jacobsen, Brian Arly (30 October 2015). "Denmark". In Scharbrodt, Oliver; Akgönül, Samim; Alibašić, Ahmet; Nielsen, Jørgen; Racius, Egdunas. Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 7. BRILL. ISBN 9789004308909. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- Larsson, Göran (2009). Islam in the Nordic and Baltic Countries. Routledge. ISBN 9781134012923. Retrieved 18 October 2017.