Denmark’s government is introducing radical news laws to regulate the lives of low-income Muslims living in “ghettos,” in an effort to protect “Danishness,” according to a government plan. One of these policies will include separating babies from their mothers for several hours a day to instill Danish values in them.
In Denmark, the word “ghetto” describes a neighborhood with more than 1,000 residents with the following attributes: over 50 percent of the residents are immigrants from non-Western countries, at least 40 percent are unemployed and 2.7 percent have criminal convictions.
Many right-leaning political leaders consider these areas as “holes” in Denmark’s map where Danish language and culture is seemingly lost to generation after generation of immigrants.
For decades, Denmark has been pushing to integrate immigrants and conform them to serve a small and homogenous population. About 87 percent of Denmark’s 5.7 million residents are of Danish descents while the rest are immigrants. Currently there are 254,000 ghettos scattered in Denmark. Of the 60,000 people living in the areas, around two-thirds are from Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia.
According to the new crackdown, “ghetto children” will be separated from their families once they turn 1 for at least 25 hours each week for mandatory lessons in “Danish values,” which include learning about Christmas and Easter. If the parents refuse to comply, their welfare payments would be stopped.
There are other punitive measures against residents of ghettos as well.
One of the measures would allow courts to double the punishment for certain crimes for residents of the ghettos. The attempt to target the poor population more harshly than Danish elites is another example of the classist values of the Danish government.
Another policy would impose 4-year prison sentences on parents who forced their children to make long visits to their country of origin that could damage their Danish schooling and increase surveillance and monitoring of the ghetto families.
However, some radical proposals, like placing a curfew on “ghetto children” after 8 p.m. were rejected, but only because it was too challenging to enforce it. Martin Henriksen, the chairman of Parliament’s integration committee, actually suggested that young people in the areas could be fitted with electronic ankle bracelets — just like during the German Nazi era.
Rokhaia Naassan, a pregnant woman who is fast approaching her delivery date, is angered with the mandatory “preschool” program.
“Nobody should tell me whether or how my daughter should go to preschool. Or when,” she said. “I’d rather lose my benefits than submit to force.”
She also said her daughter was taught so much about Christmas, she came home demanding presents from Santa Claus.
In fact, activists and left-center politicians believe Danes have become so desensitized to the plight of the immigrants that they no longer register the negative nuances of the word “ghetto” and how many of the measures hark back to the Third Reich’s separation of the Jewish people.
“We call them ‘ghetto children, ghetto parents,’ it’s so crazy,” Yildiz Akdogan, a Social Democrat, said. “It is becoming a mainstream word, which is so dangerous. People who know a little about history, our European not-so-nice period, we know what the word ‘ghetto’ is associated with.”
By pushing the story about how much immigrant and refugee families cost Dane taxpayers, the Danish People’s Party has won many voters away from the Social Democrats, who have long fought for the Danish welfare state. However, while trying to protect Danish values, these policies will undermine equality before the law.
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