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Political uproar after mufti's remarks
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24.09.2004 Print article (IE & NS 4+)
An Islamic mufti in Copenhagen has sparked a political outcry after publicly declaring that women who refuse to wear headscarves are "asking for rape."

An Islamic mufti in Copenhagen, Shahid Mehdi, has sparked political outcry from the left-wing Unity List and right-wing Danish People's Party, after stating in a televised interview that women who do not wear headscarves are "asking for rape." Unity List equality spokesman Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has threatened to file suit for defamation against the mufti on behalf of herself and all the women of Denmark. The Danish People's Party has urged Justice Minister Lene Espersen and Integration Minister Bertel Haarder to stop the mufti's religious activities in Copenhagen.

Shahid Mehdi made his remarks in the DR2 programme "Talk to Gode," and reiterated his stance in daily newspaper B.T. The Danish People's Party and Unity List agree that Mehdi's remarks could incite Muslim men to rape Danish women by insinuating that women who did not cover their hair were undeserving of basic respect.

As a mufti, a jurist who interprets Islamic law, Shahi Mehdi is in a special position of authority as a Muslim scholar. Mehdi is currently affiliated with the Islamic Cultural Center in Copenhagen, but Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has urged officials to ban his teachings in Denmark due to his "reactionary view of women."

"The very idea that this man is authorised to teach young people in the Koran is ludicrous. It's like letting (Danish Nazi leader) Johnny Hansen teach the history of World War II," said Rosenkrantz-Theil.

The Socialist People's Party is urging Integration Minister Bertel Haarder to investigate whether Mehdi had violated Danish laws prohibiting foreign religious clerics from engaging in activity that poses a threat to public safety, health, decency and order.

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