Grain of Sand | Sorry, no blacks allowed tonight
Imagine two elegantly dressed young Danish couples strolling along the foothills of Mount Vitosha on a warm summer’s day. They join the queue for one of the best nightspots in Sofia. The couples are looking forward to a night of dancing, chitchat and cocktails. They quickly get in line and wait their turn, in a civilized fashion.
But when it’s their turn to enter the club, the security allows only one of the ladies in, with a smile on his face, barely checking her ID cards. The young, elegantly dressed Danish lady walks in with a smile, anticipating a night of good fun. She turns around to see if the others are following behind, but quickly realises they are not. In fact, they have been stopped and refused entry into the club.
Their crime? Well, Denmark is considered a bad country by the club security, and Danes are “known for starting fights”. Shocking, you think? But this situation actually happened a few weeks ago, not to two Danish couples, but to two eastern European student couples trying to enter a popular nightspot in Aarhus.
One of the girls shared her story on AarhusCulture.com, a popular website that is officially recognised by Aarhus Council, and the story has clearly concerned the many international students in Aarhus.
This matter struck a chord with me. After all, I was also denied entry into a local bar last year due to my skin colour.
I was simply told: “Sorry, no blacks allowed inside tonight. A Somali is suspected of stealing a credit card from a Dane and about 30,000 kroner is missing from that account.”
But what did that have to do with me? Seriously. If one European commits a crime somewhere, should all Europeans be punished and banished? After all, Europe is a continent and not a country, and so is Africa.
But intellectual logic was not going to stop the security following the firm instructions of the club’s owner.
However, when the police later viewed the security camera footage of the incident, the evidence was to the contrary. The real culprits of the crime were two Danes, who had stolen the credit card of another Dane and withdrawn money from his account.
But still, on the nights following the incident, all Africans contined to be regarded with suspicion and refused entry.
You may wonder how one Somali man became the leading suspect in a bar that was mostly full of Danes. But I will leave that to your imagination.
I was baffled beyond words when the security told me plainly: “Sorry, no blacks allowed tonight.”
I even recorded the incident on video and uploaded it to YouTube.
I reported the matter to the police and started a media campaign to raise awareness of the matter. Several national and international newspapers picked up the story.
I also started an online petition against racism in the Aarhus clubs scene. My goal was to raise 100 signatures, but over 400 people signed, including the mayor of Aarhus. Nevertheless, in the end, it took the police over a month to take down my statement.
I also made a complaint to the Danish Equality Board, but as things stand, they have thrown out the case, as they are still waiting for the results of the police investigation.
It is almost a year now, and I haven’t heard anything at all from the ‘police investigation’, leaving me to wonder if they are well trained and equipped to handle crimes of discrimination against non-Danes or just plainly unwilling.
A few months ago, a dispute resolution organisation contacted me and asked me if I would like to meet the security guy who refused me entry into the bar that night on the basis of my skin colour. I agreed to meet him and spoke with him. I understood that his hands were tied that night, as he could not make his own independent decision, since he was carrying out the club owner’s orders.
Aarhus is a beautiful city, with thousands of internationals living here. But so far, it looks like the Aarhus police are reluctant to investigate discrimination against non-Danes in its club scene. Who are internationals going to turn to in order to find justice in Aarhus? Make no mistake, I love the city, but this injustice must be cleared up.