Copenhagen revives ethnic youth council

City Council sets aside 300,000 kroner to fund a new organisation to represent young ethnic minorities and promote integration

A new organisation will replace an ethnic youth council that was disbanded after the government cut its funding earlier this year.

The City Council has set aside 300,000 kroner to fund a new organisation that, in 2014, will take over the integration role performed by the now-defunct Dansk Ungdoms Fællesråd.

The organisation fell out of favour after it last year invited Islamic religious expert Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri to speak about his fatwa, or religious ruling, against terrorism.

But ul-Qadri is also implicated in the writing of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws that have been used to persecute religious minorities in the country.

The social affairs minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), pulled out of the conference after learning that ul-Qadri was also participating and earlier this year the anti-immigration Dansk Folkeparti successfully lobbied her to cut the organisation's one million kroner of funding.

Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for immigration, Anna Mee Allersev (Radikale), said the decision to eliminiate the funding bordered on censorship on the part of the government.

“What happened to Dansk Ungdoms Fællesråd was deeply damaging and it was incredibly disappointing that Karen Hækkerup agreed to close an organisation that actually contributed to including ethnic minorities into the democratic process,” Allerslev told Jyllands-Posten. “I hope we can save some of the work that Dansk Ungdoms Fællesråd had started before it was closed.”

Allerslev ruled out having any influence over who the new organisation invited to speak at events, while Dansk Folkeparti still argued it was appropriate to pull the plug on Dansk Ungdoms Fælledråd because of its choice of speakers.

“We sent a sensible signal that when working to get young ethnic minorities integrated into the democratic process they need to think carefully about who they invite,” Dansk Folkeparti integration spokesperson Martin Henriksen said, adding that the city was “loony” for offering to fund the organisation.

The need for initiatives to improve integration was highlighted by new research that showed that immigrants and the children of immigrants are much less likely to vote than the general population.