In Denmark, human rights groups are warning Danish government plans to further tighten existing and controversial legislation on so-called “ghetto”.
The bill, presented in mid-March, focuses on so-called “parallel societies”. The Danish government uses the term to describe residential areas that it believes are not sufficiently integrated into Danish society. The new law aims to reduce the proportion of “non-Western” residents in disadvantaged areas to 30 percent over the next ten years and relocate affected families to other parts of the country.
“All Warning Lights”
Even today, the proportion of “non-Western” residents in underprivileged districts should not exceed 50 percent. This is what the “ghetto law” passed in 2018 provides. The regulation applies to city districts with more than 1000 inhabitants, whose population structure is measured based on four criteria: unemployment, income, education, and crime.
The date of voting in Parliament has not yet been set, but it is more likely to get a majority for the draft. Human rights lawyers have announced that the project should be accepted as planned.
“Our concern is that ethnicity will be more in focus than before,” explains Nanna Margaret Kusa, an expert at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. “We are very concerned because when it comes to ethnicity, all the warning lights come on.”
The office of UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet was created only last year. Warning of the consequences of such changes in the law:“Denmark’s non-white and non-European population is particularly affected by the measures taken against so-called ‘non-Western’ residents,” the statement said.
Violation of the prohibition of discrimination?
According to the Danish Institute for Human Rights expert Margaretha Kusa, three actions against the current “ghetto laws” in Denmark are pending. “We are of the opinion that there is a possibility of discrimination in these cases which violate national and European law”. So kussa.
Opposition to group “general resistance” in Copenhagen against new migration laws
The Danish Ministry of Interior rejected the charge. The “non-Western” category would correspond to the terms used by the Danish Statistical Office. According to this standard, the following countries belong to the group of Western countries in addition to the member states of the European Union: Great Britain, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland, the Vatican, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
The Danish Interior Minister said in a DW statement, “All other countries are considered non-Western states.” “The difference between Western and non-Western countries has nothing to do with the country’s political system, religion, culture or economy.”
However, critics argue that this type of bill would put stigma on immigrant dens, especially Muslims and people of color. This is what people consider themselves to be white and not Western and who have experienced racism.
Do not minimize problems
Former MP Czlem Cicic, who was one of the first Muslim women to enter the Danish parliament, described the latest draft law as a “counterintelligence”. “I agree with the government that there are major problems in some neighborhoods,” Kurd told DW. But they are not so big that people have to move from their residential areas.
Muslim Zelem Kellik was one of the first Muslim women to enter the Danish Parliament
According to Cesic, the draft law is generally targeted against marginalized population groups. “It is not only about Muslims or immigrants, but also about the working class. Many residents of disadvantaged districts have no safe livelihood.”
Denmark has one of Europe’s toughest immigration and asylum laws. Unlike other EU states, however, this course in the country is supported by all major parties in the left and right spectrum.
The political change of course began in 2015 under the then president of the Danish Social Democrats, Mate Friedrichsen, who has ruled the country since 2019 as prime minister.
Aarhus University political scientist Rune Stubger said, “The party leadership decided that the Social Democrats would take stern action on immigration, and they did so.” “Now they defend this course with teeth and claws.”
According to Stubger, Danish social democrats will probably make marks with the new draft legislation as well – even if the Danish judiciary must find the “non-Western” norm violating national and European law.
Prime Minister Mette Friedrichsen is well received by the Danish course against migrants
And even if the information from the Danish Statistical Office speaks a different language: according to it, only 5.3 percent of “non-Western” immigrants lived in so-called problem areas in the past year.
For former MP Czlem Kellick, this political course is risky. “Children of underprivileged neighborhoods feel like dens,” she says. “You were born in Denmark, have a Danish passport, speak Danish and go to school here.”
Still, they have to keep hearing: “You are not Danish because you are Muslim. How can you expect these children to be loyal to the state if they do not accept them as they are?”
The text was adapted from English to German by Astrid Prange de Oliveira.