Since my readership is generally non-Danish, I tend to write little about Danish issues, but I feel that I've been too silent on the issue of Danish politics.
Denmark is lead by a two-party (Venstre
) right-of-center government which is dependent on the support by the populist, anti-immigrant Dansk Folkeparti
Politically, I am not far from Venstre
, but ever since Anders Fogh Rasmussen
became the leader of the party, I've not voted for them, for the simple reason that I'm an anti-racist, and cannot support any party which works together with racist ideologues like the people in Dansk Folkeparti
Unsurprisingly the support from Dansk Folkeparti
comes with a price, and given their anti-humanitarian views, this price is paid by immigrants. Not only in the form of more and more draconian laws, but also in the form of widespread anti-immigrant rhetoric in the Danish society. Every time there is an issue involving immigrants (or descendants of immigrants) in one form or another, Dansk Folkeparti
gets in front of the camera to demonize immigrants.
This has of course lead to a stigmatization of the immigrants in Denmark. In Denmark, children of immigrants are routinely referred to as "second generation immigrants" by politicians, the press, and the public, ignoring the fact that these people have lived their entire life in Denmark.
Of course, this doesn't happen to all immigrants. Even though my mother's not Danish, I don't get referred to as a second generation immigrant - as my picture shows, I look part of the homogeneous Danish population. Instead, it's people who comes from, or descents from people coming from, countries like Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, etc.
These people are also referred to as Muslim. When a Dane talks about someone being a Muslim, the Dane is not talking about someone belonging to a belief system, but instead uses it as an ethnic designation. It doesn't matter if the person in question is a Christian Lebanese, an atheist Dane, or something completely different - in the eyes of the Danish society, he or she is a Muslim.
This is perhaps related to the Danish perception of themselves being culturally Christian
, no matter what their actual religions beliefs are.
All of this stigmatization has led to immigrants, and children of immigrants, becoming socially marginalized at a higher rate than others. Add to this the fact that people with a "Muslim" name have a harder time getting jobs, and you'll find people with a immigrant background are overrepresented in the criminal system, though nowhere as much as Geert Wilders claims. When he visited Denmark recently, he claimed that 70% of all prisoners in Denmark were Muslims; the true number is 20%, and in real numbers it's 800 people (out of 4000 prison inmates).
Currently there is a gang war going on between the biker gang Hells Angels
and immigrant street gangs. This fight is about control of the illegal narcotic trade in Copenhagen, and has claimed lives of people in both camps as well as lives of innocent bystanders. Hells Angels
are of course no strangers to such gang wars, having fought with Bullshit
in the eighties and Bandidos
in the nineties - the later gang war made headlines around the world when they started using rocket launchers.
Even though there are two sides to this conflict, and that one of the parts have been involved in several such conflicts in the past, the general public in Denmark apparently seems to think that the Hells Angels
is the good part, fighting against the evil immigrants. Something which Hells Angels
spokesman, and convicted murdered, Jønke
has milked for everything it is worth.
Recently, Hells Angels
published an manifest in which they talked about a group of people, called Jackals, that were dangerous to society, and which they fought against. These Jackals were of course a description of the stereotypical "Muslim" gang member. Most people could see through this obviously self-serving piece of propaganda, but some took it seriously. Among these, a member of Parliament for Venstre
, Søren Pind, who wrote a blog post Hvad nu hvis Jønke har ret?
("What if Jønke is right?") where he looks at the manifest, ignoring the sender, and decides that the main message is correct, thus legitimizing further the public view of Hells Angels
as the righteous side.
This is the current political state of Denmark.
At the same time, Denmark has recently elected a convicted racist, Morten Messerschmidt, to the EU parliament. Giving him the 2nd highest number of personal votes ever given to a candidate for the EU parliament. He is a member of Dansk Folkeparti
Some times I despair.
What does it take for people to wake up, and see that Denmark is heading down the drain? Not because of the Islamification of the country, as the right-winged racists claim, but because of the continuous stigmatization of entire parts of the population. That the tolerance that Danes think Denmark represents, is not there anymore (if it ever was there)?
Denmark closed the borders for immigrants in 1972, and while people from the EU can move to Denmark if they want, all other immigrants either have to be refugees or have to have close family already living in Denmark. As per April 2009, there were 405,861 immigrants and 125,232 decedents of immigrants in Denmark, which makes them approximate 10% of the population. Of these, 247,672 and 108,651 were from "non-Western countries" (which includes Bosnia-Herzegovina). The source for the numbers can be found here
(.pdf and in Danish)
Given the Danish population were 5,515,287 at the end of the first quarter 2009 (source
), we're talking about approximately 6.5% of the Danish population who are "Muslim". Listening to the media and the right-winged, racist propagandists, you'd thought the number was at least 3 times as high.
There is obviously always challenges to integrating people in a new country, especially if they comes from a conflict-ridden area, but as many countries demonstrates, this can be done in much larger numbers than we are talking about here. It is, however, not done by stigmatization.
Denmark should do better - most of us are better than this.
Labels: Danish politics, Denmark, racism