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Religion and Covid-19 in Denmark

As in many other countries lock-downs due to the COVID-19 pandemic have massively affected religious communities in Denmark. Because the majority Lutheran church is considered part of the public sector, churches were closed and personnel sent home on 11 March, when all non-essential public buildings were closed down. Religious communities were strongly encouraged to do the same (see Politi) until a decree imposed from March 18 also formally closed the buildings belonging to religious minorities. The measures had a massive impact on religious life in Denmark. All Easter celebrations were cancelled, as were Friday prayers and activities during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark also decided to postpone all confirmation ceremonies until after Pentecost Monday (1 June 2020, see Politi).

As of May 18, the Church of Denmark and religious communities are allowed to re-open their buildings, but must still respect the March 18 policy of social distancing which in general sets a maximum to crowds of 10 people, but allows for more people under specific circumstances, including in religious buildings (1 person per 4 m², see here).

A controversy took place in the second-largest city Aarhus, when a mosque was given a stand-alone to broadcast the call to prayer and did this following the sound of church bells from the local church. The local branch of the organization Generation Identitær held a protest action the following day, leading a group of about 30 Muslims to break the social distancing clause by commuting to prayer the day after. The police arrived too late to catch any of the praying offenders, while the members of Generation Identitær face fines. The organization has also protested at a Zoom Ramadan dinner showing signs saying ‘Stop Islamization’. The dinner was in addition interrupted by unknown activists who managed to air Child molestation of a sexual character for a few seconds.

Precautions taken due to the pandemic led to a temporary suspension of the requirement to shake hand to accept Danish citizenship through nationalization (see The New York Times).

D 20 May 2020    ALene Kühle ANiels Valdemar Vinding

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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