January 18, 2013
Queen of Denmark has forwarded to Danish Parliament the Hindu statesman Rajan Zed’s appeal to consider his request of including him to read Hindu invocation at the next opening of Folketinget (Denmark’s Parliament).
After being denied the request of including him to read Hindu invocation as a part of the divine service at the next opening of Folketinget, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, sent his appeal to Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark Margrethe Alexandrine Þorhildur Ingrid.
Bjarne Erbo Gronfeldt, Queen’s Deputy Private Secretary, wrote to Rajan Zed: Her Majesty the Queen has instructed me to acknowledge receipt of your mail. Please be informed that your letter has been forwarded to Folketinget (The Danish Parliament) as the competent authority in such matters.
Zed’s request to Folketinget Speaker Mogens Lykketoft to read Hindu invocation as a part of the “divine service” at the next opening of Folketinget had ended in a denial with the response—“Parliament of Denmark must respectfully decline your kind offer”—from Speaker’s PA Marianne Treumer Ammitzboll.
When asked to elaborate the reason of denial, Ammitzboll wrote:… it would run counter to the traditions of Danish parliamentary opening sessions if you…were to read a prayer or religious invocation in the Chamber of the Danish Parliament during or prior to the opening session.
The new sessional year of Folketinget begins with a “divine service” hosted by Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (Folkekirken), for members at Christiansborg Palace Chapel, initially built in 1700s.
Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), has urged the Queen, 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 Folketinget.
Zed stressed that though the Danish government claims to deliver religious freedom, but it should work for providing religious equality also.
Rajan Zed urged Folkekirken, its Copenhagen Bishop Peter Skov-Jakobsen and other religious leaders of Denmark also to push for inclusivity at Folketinget, 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 Folketinget 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.
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