Denmark’s ‘ghetto plan’ and the communities it targets


At the end of each year, the Danish federal government publishes a list of what it classifies as the country’s “ghettos”. There are currently28

Locations where more than 50 percent of residents are immigrants or descendants of “non-Western countries” can be designated a “ghetto” based on the following requirements: income, percentage of those utilized, levels of education and percentage of people with criminal convictions.

Denmark is presently executing its questionable nationwide “ghetto strategy” – One Denmark without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030 – introduced by the previous federal government in March 2018, and now entered a set of harsh laws and a housing policy.

This includes the physical demolishment and transformation of low-income, largely Muslim areas. Locals of these areas – working-class, immigrant and refugee neighborhoods – state the steps are targeted at including as well as distributing them.

The term “ghetto”, with its negative connotations of festering criminal activity, joblessness and dysfunction gives distress for locals who think the plan stigmatises them further while offering no enhancements to their conditions. Anger, confusion and a feeling of betrayal are installing amongst those deemed to be residing in “ghettos”.

Citizens of “ghettos” are now subject to a various set of guidelines. Charges for criminal offenses can be doubled. Specific violations, for instance, which are typically finable offenses might imply jail time.

Laws passed last March require children from the age of one to spend a minimum of 25 hours a week in childcare to receive necessary training in “Danish worths”. There was even a proposal from the reactionary Danish People’s party that “ghetto children” should have a curfew of 8pm, although that was rejected by the parliament.

But possibly one of the most insidious guidelines is that public housing in so-called “tough ghettos” will be limited to just 40 percent of overall housing by2030 This means that public housing is now either being taken apart, redeveloped or leased to personal business. The worry is that thousands throughout Denmark may have to leave their homes. By some reports, that number could be more than 11,000 people.

Poul Aaroe Pedersen, a representative at the Ministry of Transportation and Real estate, which is overseeing the housing modifications, stated in an e-mail that the objective “is to prevent parallel societies” by incorporating “socially disadvantaged residential locations” with the surrounding neighborhood through the development of different types of real estate.

Pederson said it is not possible to provide a precise number for how numerous people would need to move.

According to legal representative Morten Tarpaulin, 2 communities, one in the city of Helsingor and the other in the town of Slagelse, whose citizens he is working to support, will receive the nation’s first real estate contract termination notifications in early2020

Mjolnerparken, a so-called “hard ghetto”, is a four-block real estate complex positioned in Norrebro, a lively, multicultural and gentrifying district in Copenhagen.

There, 260 residencies will be offered. Residents have been informed through the real estate association that they will need to move and are being motivated to relocate to other areas. Numerous are unsure about what will occur next.

We visited Mjolnerparken and spoke with four residents about how the policies are affecting their lives and their worries for the future.

Lisbeth Saugmann, 76, pensioner: ‘I’m being by force transferred’


Lisbeth Saugmann grew up and invested most of her life in low-income real estate, described by some as ‘ghettos’ [Jamila Versi/Al Jazeera]

Lisbeth has lived in the home for senior people in Mjolnerparken for almost a years. She has been informed by the real estate association that she will have to move.

” I was born in Arhus and invested the majority of my life in public housing and shared homes. Then eight years earlier, I decided to move here, due to the fact that my family all relocated to Copenhagen. I wished to live with others, because, you understand, when you’re new in a place it can be a bit frustrating and the older you get it can be more difficult to make new good friends. So I was happy to discover a location here.

” I have actually been extremely pleased here. I actually like Norrebro. I like that it’s such a mix of individuals. I’m very happy to not be, sorry to say it like this, dealing with a lot of rich as ** oles.

” We found out about the ‘ghetto strategy’ when all the political leaders and authorities came here, however they never ever spoke with us. They want to offer Mjolnerparken, but there are other “ghettos” in the country where they wish to tear down healthy houses simply because they do not like individuals living there.

” I was a kindergarten teacher. I have actually dealt a lot with kids that weren’t really promoted, however that has nothing to do with skin colour. You need to use other methods to solve it. All the research study will inform you this [plan] will not do anything.

” In the other real estate associations where I lived, we had the exact same [social] problems, but everybody was white. They [the authorities] entered and they provided more opportunities for jobs which helped.

” I see it [the plan] as something that’s hurting individuals, cutting at emotional ties and financially, it’s also just a waste of cash. That’s how it is for people who do not make a lot, or are sick, or aren’t in some method a part of the system.

” People are really unfortunate. I think relationships are going to fall apart, and I believe it will expose some vulnerabilities from individuals who are already having a hard time, especially if they’re informed, ‘You can’t live here since we don’t like you.’

” I’m being forcibly transferred. In the seniors’ residence, we have actually had the ability to get confirmation that we won’t be separated as a group. And we’re the group that’s white. I think that’s belonged to the reason we’re getting different treatment than the others.

” But we still have to pay much higher lease than we can pay for. Especially now that I’m aging, how will I pay for my medication?

” It’s a problem. Everybody’s so confused about it. It makes me feel unsafe. People are talking about everything the time, even when you go to take the trash out.

” This location is going to be reconditioned and they’ll sell it for three times the cost to rich individuals.

” I don’t know what a ‘parallel society’ is. I imply, possibly there are different realities. Maybe it’s the abundant towns versus here, for instance, due to the fact that they live a totally different reality than we do. I don’t believe there’s any parallel society here.”

Asif Mehmood, 52, cabby: ‘Here, you never ever sleep hungry, you’re never ever alone’

Asif Mehmood

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‘ They’re making us move here and here and there. I seem like they’re kicking us out of Denmark,’ Asif Mehmood states [Jamila Versi/Al Jazeera]

Asif pertained to Denmark from Pakistan at the age of 20 and transferred to Mjolnerparken with his wife and child in1994 They raised their three children there. They have been informed they need to leave and have received a deal of new housing.

” I really like Mjolnerparken. Here, you never sleep starving, you’re never ever alone. If you forget your wallet when you go to the store, someone will let you take the food home, since we understand each other here. You can never ever do that in the city centre. We reside in the very best location you can be – there’s a train station, bus stations. My better half is ill. We live next to three various medical facilities, all five minutes away. That makes it really simple.

” I’m extremely reliant on people here. If I’m at work and my better half or daughters have a little issue, I can call one of my good friends to come assist. It’s a big support network.

” People can call it what they desire, but it’s not a ‘ghetto’. They’re [the government] the ones who constructed this place and now they’re beginning to call it a ‘ghetto’. That’s not fair. Now that it’s become this hip place, they want individuals to move out and they use criminality as a reason.

Then they’ll move us out from Copenhagen to the countryside and, eventually, they’ll simply kick us out of the country.

Asif Mehmood, taxi driver

” If there’s criminal activity, let’s repair it. But with this plan, they wish to tear down the structures.

” Even if all of us have a various skin colour and wear different clothing doesn’t mean we’re wrongdoers.

” There are places like Allerod, with far more criminal activity than here, however they do not call it a “ghetto” because they’re white. It does not make sense.

” Now they desire all of us to relocate to Wilders Plads [in Copenhagen] and pay double the rent there. So will not Wilders Plads become a ‘ghetto’ if all the exact same people move there? And what about those people who can’t pay for double the lease?

” Then they’ll move us out from Copenhagen to the countryside and, eventually, they’ll just kick us out of the nation, like Inger Stojberg [far-right politician and ex-immigration minister] wants. But excuse me, we’re 99 percent Danish people living here. Even if they do not believe we look Danish.

” Now Bo-Vita [the housing association] has actually been sending us these pamphlets saying,’M is so pleased, due to the fact that now that he’s moved, he finally has a sofa.’ What the hell? You’ve seen that I have not one however two sofas. They require to discover me a place that I can afford which has an elevator for my other half.

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” I’m lucky. I make an OKAY amount. We have actually gotten a new real estate offer but it’s on the other end of town and far from the healthcare facilities. And what about everybody else? They aren’t informing us anything. Everyone is really unpredictable.”

Anonymous, 45: ‘We’re going to combat to stay’

One 45- year-old lady was spoken with anonymously. She arrived in Denmark as a Palestinian refugee when she was a teenager.

” I was born in Lebanon in1974 In 1988 we relocated to Denmark. First, we were in the asylum centre, and after that we moved to Humlebaek [a coastal town] and resided in our own family house.

” However we didn’t like it. My parents were lonesome. So we used to concern Mjolnerparken. First my hubby, my new-born and I relocated, then my moms and dads moved in next to us.

” We moved here to be in a social location. We actually like being here. My five children matured here with the other second-generation kids. My oldest child is 25 and the youngest seven. The oldest two have their own business and my children are studying public administration.

” I operate in a canteen, but I’ve obtained an internship in a workplace instead. I don’t really like operating in the kitchen area. And I’m a carer for my mum.

” Kid can’t find work if they live in Mjolnerparken. Great deals of kids from outside the location – faces we do not understand – come and make issues. Everything is stacked against the boys from around here. They do not feel Danish enough, they’re spoken down to, they do not get tasks, so then they need to do something else.

I felt Danish till just recently. Now I feel I’m not a part of this society.


” When we moved here it was peaceful. Then the ethnic Danes vacated and unexpectedly it [got] a much worse credibility than it is.

” I have actually lived here 25 years. I think I ‘d be depressed if I moved from here, because I have a lot of excellent memories – bad memories too, naturally. It’s not great for kids to move. Especially if you’re forced to do it.

” I felt Danish until just recently. Now I feel I’m not a part of this society. The political leaders developed their ‘parallel society’, with the bad reputation they have actually offered Mjolnerparken so that ethnic Danes don’t wish to live here. It’s the fault of the real estate association that they moved in numerous immigrant families and now they’re stating it’s a problem.

” But it does not make sense. Blocks 1 and 4 aren’t being offered, so they will still be a ‘ghetto’. However they will be refurbished, so some families will probably not return, due to the fact that the rent will be more costly.

You get 3 new housing deals and if you do not state yes, you don’t get any help. However we’re not going to use for deals. We are going to sue either the Copenhagen town or the state which is administrating the plan. The attorneys [who are helping us] are figuring that out. We are more than 50 residents who don’t desire to move and who will sue. If we fail, I’ll understand we have actually tried.”

Samiah Qasim, 27, social employee: ‘They do not see me as Danish anymore’

Samiah Qasim

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‘ Recently I do not feel so safe any more,’ Samiah Qasim says [Jamila Versi/Al Jazeera]

Samiah’s parents are originally from Palestine. Her immediate family is not needing to leave their home, however her parents-in-law are. When her daughter is one, she will have to start obligatory lessons in “Danish values”. Samiah just recently arranged a “lets ghettogether” party to invite individuals to come and see Mjolnerparken.

” I was born and reproduced in Blagardsgade [also in Norrebro], which is a former ‘ghetto’. I’ve resided in Mjolnerparken for 6 years with my other half and my two kids. His moms and dads live here too. My spouse has a master’s from Copenhagen Company School.

” I truly liked maturing in Blagardsgade. I felt really safe. I was really sceptical about relocating to Mjolnerparken because of negative things I had spoken with the media, but we required a place to remain so we took it, and in fact, I have actually ended up being very delighted about it.

” There’s an excellent community. You have all the stores and transportation you require and there are cheap homes. The only issue is the gangs.

” We used to have a gang issue in Blagardsgade, however then came more stores and coffee shops. It ended up being really cosy and green. All of a sudden there was a lot of activity for the young boys – clubs and internships and task deals, so they didn’t have time to enter the gang area. That made a substantial distinction.

” I do not think they can be more wrong about the ‘ghetto’ laws. Firstly, there’s absolutely nothing incorrect with the structures which they’re selling or taking apart. It’s the individuals that reside in those structures who are having a hard time. And that’s where you need to use the resources to offer support like they did in Blagardsgade and do preventative work.

My daughter is 6 months old and I simply got a letter stating that because I’m from a ‘ghetto’ location, I need to register to send my child to this organization for 25 hours a week to find out ‘Danish values’.

Samiah Qasim

I feel I need to fight. How can we change this law and even get it eliminated?

Lately, sometimes, I fear that an insane individual will press me on to the train tracks simply since I have actually got a headscarf, and unexpectedly they don’t see me as Danish anymore. It wasn’t like that eight years ago. The politicians have simply created hate, fear and department, which’s really frightening to witness.

My daughter is six months old and I simply got a letter stating that since I’m from a ‘ghetto’ location, I have to register to send my child to this institution for 25 hours a week to find out ‘Danish worths’.

If we decline, we don’t get any benefits or kid assistance. The only exception is if the town steps in. So if I state my kid is not ready at the age of one however will be all set at one year and three months, it ends up being society’s choice.

This has absolutely nothing to do with me as a mother. It is based merely on my address. If I moved over to the opposite of the roadway, I would not be having any of these issues.

I do not feel this law makes us feel consisted of – it’s the opposite. You’re saying to kids from a young age that they are not excellent enough, that they have to do extra to be accepted by society.

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