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Trading of blame and a search for answers in Vollsmose
Following the crisis meeting attended by officials today, politicians would like the immigrants who caused problems in the Odense suburb of Vollsmose to be evicted.
Three cabinet members, all members of Socialdemokraterne (S) - Justice Minister Morten Bødskov, Housing minister Carsten Hansen, and Social Affairs and Integration minister Karen Hækkerup - met with Funen Police and Odense Council officials to discuss Monday night’s events, in which a group of 60-80 men invaded the emergency department at Odense University hospital following a shooting at a community party celebrating Eid, the end of Ramadan.
“The challenge is to get hold of some of these tough gangs. It is obvious that they need somewhere to live, but it will calm down Vollsmose if they are separated, that is the first step,” Bødskov said. "We are working for a Denmark that stands together and is not characterised by insecure areas, where there is any doubt about what kind of values Danes stands for.”
The mayor of Odense, Anker Boye (S) said that the families of those involved are not helping the situation.
“If I could choose, it would be the whole family that gets pulled up by the roots. They don’t fit in with our norms,” he said. “It would ease the pressure on the whole area.”
While the legality of evicting any of the individuals who took part in the hospital incident is unclear, what is certain in the wake of Monday night's incident is that it has ignited a political tit-for-tat. Debate has raged over the past two days about who is responsible for the failed integration in Vollsmose, an area known nationally as being a ‘ghetto’ with high unemployment and a large immigrant population.
MP Trine Bramsen (S) said on Tuesday that those responsible for the attacks should consider whether they want to be members of Danish society or “go home to their native country”. The comment received much criticism from political friends and foes alike, but was backed up by the prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S), who said that she could understand Bramsen's sentiment.
Leading opposition party Venstre (V) has suggested that the government is responsible for the dramatic events in Odense and former integration minister, Søren Pind (V), in particular criticised the current government for being too lenient with their immigration policies, saying that S had not learnt anything since its fall from power in 2001.
“The government as usual looks on passively, while criminals and bandits take power in the streets and do as they please,” Pind wrote.
Thorning-Schmidt soon shot back.
“There is an integration problem that has not been addressed for many, many years. I have noted today that both [former prime minister] Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Søren Pind say that it is the government’s fault. If the wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable. Those who have done this [stormed the hospital] are young people who were small children when the previous government took power.”
The economy minister, Margrethe Vestager (Radikale) wrote on Twitter that “The violence in Vollsmose is totally unacceptable. It has no place here at home. V had responsibility for 10 years. We have had it for 10 months. Joint solution?”
A 26-year-old and a 20-year-old man were in court yesterday on charges of attempted murder on the shooting incident in Vollsmose that set off the night's dramatic events. Police have indicated that the shooting likely stems from a long-simmering conflict between Vollsmose residents and members of an immigrant gang known as Black Cobra. Police say that they will likely be making more arrests and have increased the numbers of staff in Vollsmose.