COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish court acquitted three lawmakers Tuesday of defamation for writing an email in which they said public funds should not be granted to an organization helping women exposed to psychological violence because the woman behind it didn’t distance herself from Islam’s Sharia law.
In 2017, Naser Khader, Martin Henriksen and Marcus Knuth __ all members of center-right parties in Denmark’s Parliament — wrote an email to three center-left lawmakers urging them not to back a 680,000 ($102,000) public grant to the organization headed by Shirin Khankan.
Their attempt failed and the money was allocated.
The three writers said Khankan was “a controversial figure” because she didn’t want to distance herself from Islam’s Sharia law, among others. Khankan is also a female imam running a mosque for mainly women.
In acquitting the men, the Eastern High Court said their statements were “made as part of a public debate on issues of significant social interest,” and within the limits of the freedom of speech.
Khankan sued the men for defamation in March 2018 and had sought a financial compensation of 10,000 kroner.
Her Exitcirklen organization helps women who have been exposed to psychological violence, social control and radicalism through religion.
The lawmakers were then either in the center-right government and supporting its harsh anti-immigration line. Henriksen, a member of the anti-immigration Danish People’s party, is no longer in Parliament.
Knuth had described sharia “as medieval, as barbaric and undemocratic” while Khankan — born in Denmark to a Syrian father and a Finnish mother — has said, “I am against sharia law and always have been. I am a supporter of a secular state … this is not a new position, I have always had that.”