Eight cabinet members joined a group of several hundred people protesting outside the city’s Royal Library last night during a meeting held by Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The protestors were angered by Hizb ut-Tahrir’s position that Muslims had an obligation to engage in armed resistance against coalition troops in Afghanistan. Many said they had supported efforts by lawmakers, including the culture minister, to pressure the Royal Library not to allow the group to hold the meeting on its premises.
Inside, the group’s message was clear: the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.
The first debater, Saad Ali Khad, gave a presentation about the many “myths” that, according to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, are keeping the war in Afghanistan going. He pointed out that one of the US arguments in support of the legitimacy of the war is that terror networks can be found in the country.
“But that argument could easily be turned against the US, because the US is the only state in the world convicted of sponsoring terrorism. That happened when Reagan was president,” he said, referring to the former president’s support for right-wing groups in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Khad was also critical of the argument that coalition soldiers were sent to Afghanistan to prevent terrorist attacks in the West. “That’s like extinguishing a fire with petrol. Violence breeds violence,” he argued.
Outside, at the demonstration, a number of politicians marked their resistance to Hizb ut-Tahrir’s views. ”It is an insult to the Danish soldiers and our democratic and Christian values; it is an insult to our country” said Benedikte Kiær, the social affairs minister. “They are crossing the line when they’re encouraging resistance and violence against Danish soldiers.”
Maulay Jaw, who was moderator at the meeting, said that politicians failed to focus on the discussion, which was the war in Afghanistan. Instead, he said they were paying more attention to the group’s separate seating for men and women and to the flyers advertising the meeting, which featured coffins draped in the flags of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
“Everyone has a view on whether wars and occupations are legitimate. The reality is that Danish soldiers kill – and get killed – in Afghanistan. But for what purpose?”
Lars Barfoed, the justice minister, has called on the Public Prosecutor to once again look into the possibility of banning Hizb-ut-Tahrir on the grounds that it promotes violence. In two previous investigations, in 2004 and 2008, the Public Prosecutor found that there was no reason for doing so.