The leader of Denmark’s populist Danish People’s Party, on which the government relies for support, said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that pan-Arab television channels Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya should be stopped from broadcasting to the country.
Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of parliament’s third-biggest party, accused the channels of sowing hatred against Western society in immigrant communities. The centre-right governing coalition said it did not support her views about the stations.
Immigration, a subject of controversy in several west European countries, is likely to feature in campaigning for elections due by mid-November 2011.
The minority government has passed tougher immigration laws in return for support from the Danish People’s Party since 2001.
Kjaersgaard said she would look into reporting the TV stations to Danish regulatory authorities with the aim of getting their broadcasts blocked.
“My aim is merely to promote integration here which in certain residential areas has gone completely wrong, and that is to a large extent due to the inhabitants getting their news from these two TV stations only,” she said in an interview with the daily Berlingske Tidende.
“Their broadcasts are very full of hatred…They contribute to inculcating hatred against Western society.”
Al Jazeera is based in Qatar and Al Arabiya in Dubai. Both have won large audiences in the Middle East and beyond the region, broadcasting a diet of news and current affairs.
Nasser Alsarami, head of media at Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, said: “These accusations are absolutely false and I am glad that not all the parties in Denmark share the same view.”
“We are often accused across the Arab world of being pro-Western … Getting criticism from both sides makes us think we are doing something right,” he said.
Al-Jazeera was not immediately available for comment.
The right-wing Danish People’s Party won nearly 14 percent of votes in Denmark’s last general election in 2007, and recent opinion polls indicate roughly unchanged support.
The governing Liberal and Conservative parties, which polls show would be swept from power by the Social Democrat-led opposition if elections were held now, said they did not support Kjaersgaard’s views concerning the TV channels.
Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen presented on October 27 a plan to promote integration in some residential areas.
In the so-called “ghetto plan,” the government identified 29 residential areas as “ghettos” due to high unemployment, a high proportion of immigrants and second-generation immigrants from non-European countries and high crime.
The 32 proposals in the plan include reducing the proportion of immigrants in the defined areas.
The Danish People’s Party has said it supports the plan, but Kjaersgaard has also urged a “value struggle” against Islam which she labels a threat to democracy.
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