Denmark minister probes banning Islamist party
Copenhagen: Danish Justice Minister Lars Barfoed said on Thursday he had asked the attorney general to examine whether it was legally possible to dissolve the Danish branch of an international Islamist party.
"I am now asking the attorney general to reconsider whether it is possible to bring a case to trial to dissolve Hizb-ut-Tahrir," Barfoed told the Ritzau news agency, speaking of a pan-Islamist group whose goal is to establish a global Islamic caliphate.
When contacted by a news agency, his spokesman Emil Melchior confirmed the information, saying the minister made his request following an invitation sent out by Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) on Tuesday to a meeting in Copenhagen.
The invitation reportedly hailed armed battle against Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, and portrayed pictures of coffins draped with Danish, Swedish and Norwegian flags on a map of the war-torn country.
All three Scandinavian countries have troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and proportionally Denmark has suffered the heaviest losses of all participating nations, with 39 Danish soldiers killed since they arrived in 2002.
After the invitation appeared, the far-right anti-immigrant Danish People's Party, a key ally of the centre-right government, immediately called for the organisation to be banned, while other parties called for a probe of its activities.
Melchior would not say whether Barfoed's request for a probe was linked to the dramatic arrests of five men in Denmark and Sweden on Wednesday suspected of planning an imminent massacre of staff at a Danish newspaper that first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed five years ago.
This is the third time Denmark's top prosecutor is pressured to take a stand on the legality of the Islamist party, which has already been banned in a number of countries, mainly in Central Asia and the Middle East.
In 2004, public prosecutor Henning Fode ruled there was no legal reason to ban the party, and his finding was echoed four years later by his successor, current attorney general Joergen Steen Soerensen.
The party, Soerensen said at the time, aims to "establish a Caliphate (Islamic state) notably in the Muslim countries. But that is not illegal in and of itself."
"As long as it does not use violence or other punishable methods, there is nothing illegal in advocating a system that is fundamentally different from the one we have in Denmark," he said.