In ten years, there will be no areas in Denmark where more than 30 percent of so-called “non-western immigrants and descendants” should live, according to a government initiative.
This is at least the ambition of the Danish government that has entered into a new agreement on combating so-called “parallel societies” with the Liberal Party, the Danish People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Alliance.
“It is crucial to ensure a welfare society where you meet people who are different from yourself in everyday life,” said Minister of the Interior and Housing Kaare Dybvad Bek.
The agreement expands the number of residential areas that may be the subject of a special effort to ensure a mixed composition. This is done by focusing on areas that are at risk of evolving into “parallel societies”.
A total of 58 residential areas and more than 100,000 citizens in Denmark will be subjected to the new stricter requirements. Of these, 31 are located in the capital.
The 58 new residential areas thus join areas that already appear on the government’s lists as either so-called “hard ghetto areas”, “ghetto areas” or “vulnerable residential areas“.
“We can see that over the last 20 years, a bias has grown, with our cities becoming more divided. Children growing up in vulnerable housing areas do not get the same opportunities as children growing up elsewhere,“ explained the minister.
“”The only way we help the situation is that we meet each other in everyday life and ensure that there are mixed districts and that there are no places where we get a very skewed population composition, as it happens today,” he said.
Demolition can be used
With the agreement, the authorities will be able to use a number of the tools that have so far been used in areas covered by the Parallel Society Act from 2018.
This means, among other things, that housing applicants with work or education are given priority for housing in the areas. There will also be a tightening of the rules for municipal guidance to the areas.
Perhaps the most controversial appears to be the possibility to approve strategic demolition, which will be permitted when there is a desire for “urban development or transformation” in the residential areas.
The agreement also means that all municipalities can enter into voluntary agreements without a time limit with private landlords on municipal instructions for their homes.
The Liberal Party’s housing spokesperson, Heidi Bank, believes that the agreement is a good superstructure on the left-wing government’s efforts to fight parallel societies.
“It is important that with the agreement we have focused on making better use of the existing public housing stock,“ she said in a press release.
With the agreement, residential areas now have five years against the previous four years to reverse the development before the area has to be transformed.
The agreement allocates DKK 500 million (€67.2 million) of the Rural Development Fund to cover initiatives in the new development plans.
Opponents claim state racism and discrimination
The new agreement does not include a number of parties, including the Unity List, the Radical Left, the Alternative, and the Free Greens.
The representatives of these parties are critical of the new agreements, claiming it is state racism and discrimination.
“I am fine with the fact that you want more people in work and education and that fewer people have to be criminals. But you can not change your ethnicity. And therefore, of course, it should not be a criterion either. No matter how you turn it around, it is discrimination, and you stigmatize entire residential areas that are either well-functioning or on an upward curve,” wrote Samira Nawa, housing spokeswoman for the Radical Left.
While the Unity List’s housing spokesman, Søren Egge Rasmussen, points out that the agreement is an “introduction of further discrimination”, the non-attached member Sikandar Siddique goes a step further and calls the new criteria “state racism”.
“In other words, you risk simply having your home taken from you simply because you or your parents come from a certain country or were born in a certain country many years ago. No matter how well you otherwise do in life – just because you have a certain ethnicity and live in a certain area. It is simply so unfair and so undemocratic,“ said Sikandar Siddique.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has pointed to the problems Denmark has faced due to non-Western immigration, including rising crime. She has vowed to tackle the issue, and her stance has garnered popular support from most Danes.
“Every fifth young man with a non-Western background born in 1997 had broken the law before turning 21. It’s not everyone. But there are too many young men who take the freedom of others, steal children’s futures, intimidate prison guards – and leave behind a long trail of insecurity,” said the Danish prime minister last year while announcing harsher penalties for crime and new immigration control measures.