The Copenhagen Post (Denmark), July 3, 2003
Refugees in Denmark are reportedly being harassed by Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are staging a directed campaign to win converts among asylum seekers
The church of Jehovah’s Witnesses is exploiting the critical situation facing many of the nation’s refugees by evangelising to them in asylum centres. So says Mohammed-Reza Taremian, chairman of the Århus Integration Council, in an interview with MetroXpress.
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‘When they tell refugees that everything will be fine, and that it’s easier to gain asylum status if they listen to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that’s exploiting their situation. They’re being tricked,’ said Taremian.
Taremian says the Jehovah’s Witness movement deliberately targets weak refugees, and is familiar with several cases where asylum seekers were ‘tricked’ into the religious movement during their stays at asylum enters.
Anette Haugaard, press director at the Danish Red Cross asylum department, confirmed that Jehovah’s Witnesses had created problems at the centres.
‘Refugees at the Sandholm Centre feel harassed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We don’t have a reliable overview of the problem right now, but we have prohibited the Jehovah’s Witnesses from spreading propaganda in our centres,’ Haugaard said.
Former longtime Jehovah’s Witness Poul Dal said that the movement began a directed campaign toward refugees as early as the mid-1990s.
‘We took note of where they lived, and made sure to contact them again. The refugees’ vulnerable situation was used,’ Dal told Politiken.
Jehovah’s Witness spokesman Erik Jørgensen confirmed the group’s visits to refugees.
‘The fact that refugees are in a difficult situation means they need support and help. But they’re not victims. We’re not exploiting them,’ said Jørgensen.