Danish Ghetto Laws

Photo Source: WBUR

Written by Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe UpFront

In the quest for national assimilation in Denmark, the minority liberal government has passed a law called ‘ghetto deal’ in March 2018 targeting the neighbourhoods, compromising primarily of Muslim immigrants, with different ethnic backgrounds, who will eventually go into cultural training centres. The government has introduced the political plan 'One Denmark without parallel societies – no ghettos by 2030' and enacted the concept of 'non-western' in Danish law.

These ‘ghetto neighbourhoods’ are defined as low-income areas and the children living in them are called ‘ghetto children’. 

Currently, there are around twenty-five ghettos identified by the Danish government. 

The immigrants, who live in these ghettos, come from countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. 

From 1980, immigrants have grown from 50,000 to 500,000 till date.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke, the legislative member of Venstre, believes that immigration to his country is a major problem. According to him, “people with the same problems have clumped together, [and] we have let it go, perhaps with the na├»ve idea that integration would happen on its own over time because this is such a great country with so many possibilities. But it hasn't happened. The problem has grown."
Instead of using phrases of integration, Prime Minister Lars Lokke used provocative phrases on his annual 2018 New Year’s speech, where he warned that ghettos could “reach out their tentacles onto the streets” by spreading violence, and because of ghettos “cracks have appeared on the map of Denmark.”
The government calls these ghettos ‘vulnerable areas’. Out of twenty-two clearly defined cultural reforms, around thirteen apply to these ghettos. Most of them have been approved by the parliamentary majority.
According to an article in the Guardian written by Michala Bendixen, head of Refugees Welcome Denmark, these laws are a betrayal of Danish values. From derogatory cartoons on Prophet Muhammad, debates on circumcision, to niqab clampdown, she believes Denmark has turned Islamophobic since a decade or so. Being a non-westerner is viewed as being inferior. Although, the paradox, she insists, contrary to a hostile government policy, is that many Danes have been seen helping immigrants get a new job, or helping them learn a new language. In 2017, there was a 60% rise in the employability of immigrants in Denmark.
These laws came into being, after an inflammatory newspaper column, which was written by Boris Johnson, the former British foreign sectary, who compared Niqab wearing women to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’. His comments were termed as ‘divisive’ and ‘inflammatory’ by Equality and Human Rights Commission’, but it helped politicians in Denmark for a similar campaigning, that included a ban of full-face veils.
The area of focus includes physical redevelopment, crime reduction and education. The children will be taught Danish values, including traditions of Christmas, Easter and the Danish language. From 2019, language tests will become mandatory in schools, in a government effort to remove ghettos from the country, till 2030. Its noncompliance would mean that social welfare will be denied to their parents. They could be convicted for a four-year prison sentence if they force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin. The government describes these trips as “re-education trips”. It seems that the government will compel the immigrant families to join these welfare programs and would increase surveillance and monitoring.
However, the controversial laws include control over who is allowed to live in these neighbourhoods, plan to double the punishment committed for crimes committed in ghettos, and children attending daycare, at least thirty hours a week, as soon as they turn one.
Some of these laws are defined as too radical, which include confining children to their home, after 8pm. Some leaders, such as Martin Henriksen of the Danish Peoples Party, insist that young people in these areas should be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets. Critics argue that these laws are a vehement attack on equality. Many have compared these policies with policies of Nazis upon the Jews in Germany. It was in 16th century Venice, since when the term ‘ghetto’ became common, which described areas where Jews were restricted.
Denmark is now the first country in the world, which has officially used the term ‘ghetto’ to certain residential areas. This argument was endorsed by The Liberal Party as well as the nationalist Danish People’s Party. The opposition party, the Social Democrats also supported the deal. In fact, the Social Democrats have been accused of adopting a similar far-right manifesto, that they overhauled into ‘Together for Denmark.”
Currently, there are discussions about serving pork in public schools, and whether Muslim bus drivers are able to drive safely in Ramadhan, fine women who wear niqab and banning  circumcision of boys. The government will also deny citizenship to any applicant, who refuses to do handshake in naturalisation ceremonies with their local mayor. It has seen as a measure to target Muslims in Danish society. An opinion poll has suggested that 52% of people have voted against this proposal. Some have deemed it as unconstitutional.

Denmark refused its 2018 UN refugee quota, arguing that it will be focusing on the existing immigrants who have arrived in the country. In 2016, the country excluded itself from the UN refugee quota system.


Popular Posts