Why Denmark is clamping down on ‘non-Western’ residents

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Human rights teams have sounded the alarm over the Danish authorities’s plans to swap its controversial legal guidelines on “ghettos” that have an effect on marginalized neighborhoods for tighter measures concentrating on “non-Western” residents.

The Interior Ministry final week revealed proposed reforms that may take away the phrase “ghetto” in present laws and cut back the share of individuals of “non-Western” origin in social housing to 30% inside 10 years. Families faraway from these areas could be relocated to different components of the nation.

There is no date set but for voting on the invoice — however it is anticipated to go. If authorized in its present kind, the measures will meet fast resistance from human rights advocates.

‘Red flags’ over human rights

Nanna Margrethe Kusaa, senior authorized adviser on the Danish Institute for Human Rights, tells DW, “Our concern is that the ethnicity criteria has a more sharpened focus on it than before.”

“We are very concerned about this issue and following it closely because it raises red flags whenever ethnicity is listed as a criterion,” she provides.

According to the present “No Ghettos” regulation, which handed in 2018, the share of “non-Westerners” is capped at 50% in neighborhoods with over a thousand individuals whose residents meet two of 4 standards on unemployment charges, crime charges, training and earnings.

The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner final 12 months warned: “The effect is that ‘non-Western’ disproportionately means Denmark’s non-white, non-European ethnic populations.”

Kusaa tells DW there are three court docket instances pending in Denmark over the affect of the present “ghetto” laws — lawsuits that the Danish Institute for Human Rights has intervened in.

“It’s our opinion that there is a strong risk of discrimination occurring in these cases, which we think is linked to the ‘ghetto’ criteria,” Kusaa says, probably violating nationwide and EU legal guidelines. The lawsuits in Denmark are ongoing.

What is ‘non-Western’ — and why is it focused?

The Ministry of Interior and Housing notes that its categorization of “non-Western” is according to Statistics Denmark, the central authority on statistics within the nation.

Western nations beneath this idea embrace EU states, in addition to the UK, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the Vatican State, Canada, US, Australia and New Zealand.

“All other countries are non-Western countries,” the ministry stated in an announcement to DW on Tuesday.

“The distinction between Western and non-Western countries has nothing to do with a country’s political system, religion, economy or culture,” it added.

The new proposal goals to take on what it calls “parallel societies,” a time period the federal government makes use of to label areas it deems to be missing integration into Danish society. The Ministry of Interior and Housing stated that when contemplating the unemployment fee, training, and crime charges, the variety of “non-Western residents is an indicator of integration issues.”

‘Hits Muslim and immigrants’

But critics argue that such proposals will solely additional stigmatize Danes with various backgrounds — particularly individuals of coloration and Muslims. Ozlem Cekic, a former lawmaker who was one of many first ladies with a Muslim immigrant background elected to Danish Parliament, says the present “ghetto” laws and newest proposals are counterproductive.

“I agree with the government that there are some very big problems in some communities. I accept that. But the difference is that the problem here is not so big that we need to move people out of their houses,” she instructed DW, referring to the low fee of “non-Western” residents in troubled areas.

According to the University of Copenhagen, citing Statistics Denmark figures from 2020, solely 5.3% of migrants from “non-Western countries” stay in so-called ghetto areas.

For Cekic, who is additionally Kurdish, the laws targets the marginalized. “It is not only created to hit Muslim groups and immigrant groups but the working class, too. A lot of people living in the ‘ghettos,’ they don’t have the economic stability.”

Political good points — or setbacks?

Denmark has a few of Europe’s most stringent insurance policies on immigration and integration. Unlike many different nations, the tighter grip on immigration and asylum has been embraced lately by mainstream political events on each the appropriate and left.

When the center-left Social Democrats have been defeated within the 2015 election, Mette Frederiksen took the reins of the celebration’s management, which determined it “clearly needed to take a tough stance on anything immigration-related,” says Rune Stubager, professor of political science at Aarhus University. “And so they did — quite visibly and vocally since 2015. Now they are fighting tooth and nail to stick to this line.”

The authorities’s latest strikes, even when controversial, will probably profit the celebration — no matter how Danish courts rule on the “non-Western” quotas. “It may actually pay off even if they lose such case (on discrimination) because they would have demonstrated to their voters — and the voters they want to attract — that they’re trying as hard as they can,” says Stubager.

But Ozlem Cekic says the federal government’s present laws and new proposal will solely backfire in the long term.

“I talk with children who are living in this area, and they believe they are Danish because they are born Danish, they have Danish passports, they speak Danish, they go to schools here — but people always tell them: ‘You’re not Danish because you’re Muslim.’”

“How can you expect them to be loyal to the country that doesn’t accept them as they are?” she says. “I’m afraid for what kind of citizen the next generation will be when they grow up — and how the policies will affect them.”

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