News East West
LONDON: Indian-born Manu Sareen, 46, who has just been appointed Denmark’s integration minister, is drawing flak for his comments about the so-called `meatballs wars’ of the country.
`Meatball wars’ relate to the controversy over whether to ban pork in various institutions in deference to Muslim sentiments.
Just after taking over the new integration ministry, Sareen told a local newspaper that institutions such as local councils, daycare institutions and hospitals should be free to decide whether to ban pork for the sake of the Muslim minority.
Sareen’s views run counter to his prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt who is against institutions dropping traditional Danish pork dishes (meatballs) in deference to Muslim children.
Sareen, who was appointed a federal minister in 2011 and has previously been minister for gender equality and church affairs, courted controversy in 2012 when he supported the decision of a housing committee dominated by Muslims to not have a Christmas tree.
Muslims make up about 3 percent of Denmark’s population of 5.6 million and they are the country’s second largest religious group.
The Danish Conservative Party has expressed fears that Muslims want to convert Denmark into an Islamic state.
Sareen is the first non-European minister in Denmark. He was born in India in May 1967 and was three when his family moved to Denmark in 1970.
Sareen is married to Anya Degn Sareen. The couple have three children.