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6 Jan, 2018 02:56

No mosques & 8 pm curfew: Denmark’s 2nd biggest party unveils anti-ghetto policy

No mosques & 8 pm curfew: Denmark’s 2nd biggest party unveils anti-ghetto policy

The right-wing populist Danish People’s Party (DPP) has unveiled a radical seven-point plan to tackle social problems in migrant-dominated areas, after the country’s PM said he planned “to physically bulldoze” ghettos.

The most contentious part of the initiative, which has dominated headlines this week, is a curfew on unsupervised under-18 children on the streets of so-called problem areas after 8pm. Martin Henriksen, the DPP immigration spokesman, says there is already legislation that allows local authorities to impose such restrictions, and that it won’t be applied to students or those with jobs, nor at all times. He said the DPP plan would ensure children study rather than rove in teen gangs.

Visible policing will also be intensified in the "ghettos," which boast some of the highest crime rates in the country. Among other suggestions is a moratorium on the construction of mosques with minarets, as they project a “divisive symbolism,” Henrikson, an MP, told Arab News. Instead, Muslims will be encouraged to pray in unmarked spaces, such as “warehouses and offices.”

In 2017, Denmark received just 3,500 asylum applications – the lowest number since 2008 – but the Danish People’s Party believe conditions for would-be asylum seekers need to be made stricter to whittle this down further. It further proposes that those with temporary asylum must not be given citizenship, but sent back to their homeland as soon as it is safe.

Last month, Henrikson suggested that rejected applicants should be sequestered on one of Denmark’s 300 uninhabited islands prior to deportation. While most of these ideas would be considered shocking in neighboring Sweden and in Germany, the parties of Denmark's governing coalition offered no clear official comment – perhaps due to their reliance on the DPP's 37 parliament seats to secure a parliamentary majority.

“Some of the proposals we are likely to say, ‘That may be a good idea’, while others we will say, ‘Out of the question’,” said the ruling Venstre party spokesman Jakob Ellemann-Jensen. He added that the government will hold off from producing a detailed reaction until the measures are submitted to parliament later in the year.

Most of the criticism focused on the curfew proposal, which prompted the Minister for Culture Mette Bock to question: “Are we in Denmark?” Several other senior politicians from across the spectrum dismissed the suggestion as “bloody crazy” and “insane.”

But delivered from a position of power, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s speech this week seemed equally radical. The politician, who is in his second stint as PM, said some ghettos will be physically bulldozed, while residents will be relocated to more mixed areas. Observers, though, have noted that this is the sixth government anti-ghetto proposal since 1994.

Some 13 percent of Denmark’s 5.7 million people are of migrant background, around two-thirds of whom originally came from outside Europe, according to last year’s statistics.