Denmark: Government introduces separate laws for those living in "ghettos"


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As reported in the New York Times: "Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled." The government is also planning to make it harder to obtain Danish citizenship.

See: In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’ (New York Times, link). Under the new measures (emphasis added):

"Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six (...)

That tough approach is embodied in the “ghetto package.” Of 22 proposals presented by the government in early March, most have been agreed upon by a parliamentary majority, and more will be subject to a vote in the fall.

Some are punitive: One measure under consideration would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes if they are committed in one of the 25 neighborhoods classified as ghettos, based on residents’ income, employment status, education levels, number of criminal convictions and “non-Western background.” Another would impose a four-year prison sentence on immigrant parents who force their children to make extended visits to their country of origin — described here as “re-education trips” —in that way damaging their “schooling, language and well-being.” Another would allow local authorities to increase their monitoring and surveillance of “ghetto” families.

Some proposals have been rejected as too radical, like one from the far-right Danish People’s Party that would confine “ghetto children” to their homes after 8 p.m. (Challenged on how this would be enforced, Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament’s integration committee, suggested in earnest that young people in these areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets.) (...)

Ms. Hussain, the high school student from Tingbjerg, is accustomed to anti-immigrant talk surging ahead of elections, but says this year it is harsher than she can ever remember.

“If you create new kinds of laws that apply to only one part of society, then you can keep adding to them,” she said. “It will turn into the parallel society they’re so afraid of. They will create it themselves.”

The measures were supported by both the main parties in Denmark (each of whom reportedly prepared their own proposals on "ghettos"), but there were nevertheless some criticisms when they were first announced:

"Pernille Skipper, political spokesperson with the left-wing Red-Green alliance, said that the plan lacked expert insight.

"I wish the government would call on experts, researchers, residents and others who actually know something about the problems, and start listening rather than stigmatising and making the splits in society deeper," Skipper said."


"Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) leader Morten Østergaard suggested the plan was too concerned with sending a message to voters.

"There is too much in the government's plan that reflects an election campaign. And not reality.

"Double punishment in ghettos and prison for teachers who don't report children do more to sow division and create fear than solve real problems," Østergaard said."

Source: Danish politicians react to government's 'ghetto plan' (The Local, link)

Meanwhile the ruling Venstre party is also planning to make it harder to obtain Danish citizenship: Tougher demands for Danish citizenship on the horizon (Copenhagen Post, link, emphasis added):

"The government is set to team up with Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Socialdemokratiet for new citizenship legislation in the near future. And the results are looking more stringent.

Among the legislation on the table is permanent exclusion from gaining citizenship for anyone who has participated in gang crime or spent three months or more in prison for violence.

Gang crime can include simple violence, weapons possession or threats – essentially equating gang members with terrorists and traitors to the nation.

Furthermore, anyone receiving social benefits (dagpenge) also won’t be allowed to become Danish – something some experts claim to be a form of double punishment, particularly given that many foreigners are often on the outer edges of the labour market."

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