Yahya Hassan not worried about racism charge

If the young poet ends up avoiding a racism conviction, it will expose the flaws of the racism law according to liberal think-tank Cepos

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
December 2nd, 2013 3:42 pm| by admin
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A Muslim has filed racism charges against 18-year-old poet Yahya Hassan for his comments about the Muslim community and for using degrading terms like 'perker' (a racial slur) in his poems.

Jacob Mchangama, the director of legal affairs at the liberal think-tank Cepos, said Hassan's statements could very well be viewed as violating the racism law.

"The generalising and degrading aspects speak for a possible racism charge, since there has been a range of similar preceding cases," Mchangama told Politiken newspaper.

READ MORE: Artist convicted of racism speaks out

A local politician in Aarhus, Mohamed Suleban reported Hassan for racism last Wednesday and police in eastern Jutland are currently determining whether or not to press charges.

"He says that everybody in the ghettos like Vollsmose and Gellerup steal, don't pay taxes and cheat themselves to pensions," Suleban told Politiken newspaper. "Those are highly generalising statements and they offend me and many other people."

Yahya Hassan blew off the potential racism charges during the DR2 news program 'Deadline' yesterday.

“I don’t care about getting convicted of racism,” he said, adding that police should target social fraud and the crimes being committed in the ghettos. 

Popularity may stand in way of conviction
If Hassan is charged, it will be for violating section 266b of the criminal code – the so-called racism law. But the public's backing of the poet and all the media attention brought upon him may affect the case and make it harder for the judges to convict him.

"There is a strong case against him, but it is less certain that he would get convicted," Mchangama said. "You can't look away from the fact that his poems are important social commentary."

READ MORE: Our view | A victim, but of his own talent

Earlier this year, Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was convicted of racism after she claimed on her blog that she was “convinced that Muslim men around the world rape, abuse and kill their daughters”. This led to Mchangama and other free speech advocates questioning whether anti-racism laws are fair – or even effective.

READ MORE: When hate speech begins, free speech ends (or does it?)

"If Hassan isn't convicted for making statements similar to what other people have been convicted for, it will expose a random legislation where no-one can be sure of what is legal to say," Mchangama said.

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