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Monday, April 21, 2014 04:33 AM

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Oye! News from South Asians Abroad

Denmark Parliament denies Hindu prayer request

Denmark Parliament (Folketing) has denied the request for a Hindu prayer.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed’s request to Folketing Speaker Mogens Lykketoft to read Hindu invocation as a part of the “divine service” at the next opening of Folketing has ended in a denial with the response—“Parliament of Denmark must respectfully decline your kind offer”—from Speaker’s PA Marianne Treumer Ammitzboll. No reason of denial was given.

Zed’s query for elaborating the reason of the denial of his request has not yielded any response. The new sessional year of Folketing begins with a “divine service” for members at Christiansborg Palace Chapel, initially built in 1700s.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged Her Majesty Danish Queen Margrethe Alexandrine Þorhildur Ingrid, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Lykketoft to make efforts towards more inclusivity at the highest elected body of Denmark and include prayers of “other” religions also at this opening “divine service” of Folketing.

Zed stressed that though the Danish government claims to deliver religious freedom, but it should work for providing religious equality also.

Rajan Zed urged Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (Folkekirken), its Copenhagen Bishop Peter Skov-Jakobsen and other religious leaders of Denmark also to push for inclusivity at Folketing, stressing that a more inclusive and broader understanding of religion was needed as religion comprised much more than one’s own particular tradition/experience.

Zed pointed out that as Folkekirken was regarded as "the church of the people", it needed to work more for the rights of minorities and other voiceless people. Moreover, religion told us to help the helpless.

In this statement, Rajan Zed also asked European Union, of which Denmark is a member, to look into this exclusive Folketing practice as this should be unacceptable in 21st century Europe which boasted of its human rights record.

Folkekirken, Denmark’s “official national church” where Christianity was introduced in 960 CE, with Queen Margrethe II as the supreme authority, claims 80.4% population of Denmark as its members. Besides Folkekirken members, there are considerable number of Roman Catholics, other Christian denominations, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, indigenous Norse system believers, Hindus, Baha'is, Sikhs and non-believers in Denmark, reports suggest.

According to “2011 Report on International Religious Freedom” on Denmark by U.S. Department of State, there were occasional reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, such as anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic insults, harassment, and vandalism. The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.

Located in Christiansborg Palace, Folketing comprises 179 Members. The Danish Constitution is embodied in the Constitutional Act of 1849, most recently amended in 1953. Denmark is rated among nations with best quality of life, highest per capita income, and low unemployment. Its literacy rate is 100%.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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