You’re Still Here? | Tis the season to bash minorities

Stories about people in charge changing things for minorities are like buses: they come in clumps. In Denmark, there have been a few good news/bad news situations in a very short space of time.

First up, the left-wing minister for social affairs and integration, Karen Hækkerup, has suggested that when young boys play truant from schools or break the law, it is because they are against community values and that their parents must have any state ?nancial support withheld. The one exception would be if the parents were Danish. Those parents would neither have their bene?ts withdrawn, nor be offered parenting classes as a prophylactic.

She called the group she wanted to target the ‘ethnic proletariat’. As if white European is not an ethnic group. Worryingly, I think she meant proletariat in the Roman ‘underclass’, ‘untermenschen’, ‘no property or wealth, only use in providing offspring’ sense, rather than the slightly more modern Russian ‘working class’, ‘worker’, ‘wage-slave’ sense.

This was buried by what Dansk Folkeparti (DF) did later in the week. Getting citizenship in Denmark is really hard. Purposefully hard. You do not just fall into Danish citizenship; this is like an episode of ‘It’s a Knockout’, but with more paperwork.

DF printed the names and home towns of around 700 people shortly due to be granted citizenship under the headline claiming that one of them could be a danger to Denmark. The man in question has not done anything wrong, which is why the justice minister did not name him after the security services ?agged his ‘behaviour’. His name, and those unlucky enough to be qualifying at the same time as him, have had their good names pulled through the mud. All because they were not born Danish citizens.

Dansk Supermarked group decided that women wearing a hijab could have customer service roles. The boycott to which the chain was responding to unleashed a fresh hell of hate speech on Facebook. Anyone would think that residence in Denmark was contingent on a 500kr weekly spend at Bilka. The decision to allow women whose hair is covered by a piece of cloth to run the till at Netto was greeted by howls of outrage.

Earlier in the week, the consensus was that Føtex could do what they wanted and those suppressed women should just do as they were told and remove their headgear. Later in the week, it was felt that Føtex was well out of order so they were never going to shop there again because those suppressed women were ruining everything by being so bossy.

Denmark would never be the same again. (Even though some shops have been ignoring the of?cial policy and many other supermarket chains dropped the same policy ages ago.)

There were some signs that all this hate and suspicion is controversial in Denmark. Good job too; I was starting to feel like I was stuck in the scene from that movie ‘Cabaret’ when they are in the beer garden and that blond boy starts to sing.

A group called have set up a webpage to raise money for their own newspaper advert, this time putting Danish names on a banner welcoming the new citizens. All you have to do is contribute 50kr to be part of it. They had to adjust the original sign-up target of 685 upwards at least three times. This makes me very happy.

When politicians get to say that certain groups of people are an underclass because of their ethnic group; when groups of people who have made a positive decision to become Danish are publicly shamed and treated with suspicion; and when people attack shops for starting to treat people fairly – that’s when you start to wonder where this is all going.

I am encouraged by Dansk Supermarked’s decision, and I am pleased that Danish people are willing to pay 50kr to stand up and be counted. We are stronger together, and I hope this marks a new chapter in Denmark where discrimination and prejudice is challenged.