In Brief

Denmark to limit ‘non-Westerner’ residents in poor areas

Government set to move migrants out of 58 neighbourhoods to cut risk of ‘religious and cultural parallel societies’

Migrants living in Denmark’s most troubled estates will be forced out under plans that the government claims are necessary to maintain social cohesion and cut crime.

Unveiling the new initiative, Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek argued that having too many “non-Westerners” increased the risk “of an emergence of religious and cultural parallel societies” in “vulnerable areas”. 

The authorities have identified a total of 58 “prevention zones” where the proportion of residents of non-Western origin is to be driven down to a maximum of 30% by 2031 from “as much as 74% today”, The Times reports.

This goal “would partly be reached by demolishing council houses and relocating their residents”, including “migrant families from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and some Balkan states”, to other parts of Denmark, the paper continues.

The Scandinavian country “has for years had one of Europe's most restrictive immigration policies”, says the Daily Mail - a trend that has continued since Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen came to power in 2019. 

Defending the latest proposals, Frederiksen’s interior minister told The Times that the government was seeking to tackle problems triggered by “large residential areas with high rates of unemployment and crime, a low degree of education and with social and integrational difficulties”. 

“These conditions promote inequality,” Bek said.

Bek has also said that while the word “ghetto” was included in the original drafting of the legislation, the term was removed because it was “misleading” and “contributes to eclipsing the large amount of work that needs doing in these neighbourhoods”.

Around 6% of Denmark’s total population are officially designated as being non-Western - meaning that they come from countries outside the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a handful of other European nations, including the UK.

Denmark is home to 64,000 people from Turkey, 43,000 Syrians and 33,000 Iraqis, as well as sizeable groups of people from Lebanon, Pakistan and Bosnia.

Amnesty International has criticised the proposals to force groups of these residents to relocate, warning that “many people will be made homeless or pushed into inadequate housing” by the toughening of what was already a “racist and discriminatory” law.

But despite the opposition from human rights groups, “there appears to be cross-party support for these measures and the law is expected to be approved by MPs”, The Times reports. 

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