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Push to Build Mosques Is Met With Resistance
by John Tagliabue
Paris has its grand mosque, on the Left Bank. So does Rome, the city of the pope. Yet despite a sizable Muslim population, this Danish city has nothing but the occasional tiny storefront Muslim place of worship.
The city, Denmark's capital, is now inching toward construction of not one, but two grand mosques. In August, the city council approved the construction of a Shiite Muslim mosque, replete with two 104-foot-tall minarets, in an industrial quarter on the site of a former factory. Plans are also afoot for a Sunni mosque. But it has been a long and complicated process, tangled up in local politics and the publication four years ago of cartoons mocking Islam.
The difficulties reflect the tortuous path Denmark has taken in dealing with its immigrants, most of whom are Muslim. Copenhagen in particular has been racked by gang wars, with shootouts and killings in recent months between groups of Hells Angels and immigrant bands.
The turmoil has fed the popularity of an anti-immigrant conservative party, the Danish People's Party. In city elections scheduled for Nov. 17, the People's Party, by some estimates, could double the roughly 6 percent of the vote it took in the last municipal election.
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