05 September 2008

Some things never change

Post No 5

Some things never change -

And my older brother is one of them!
He is 5 years older than me and has only been outside Denmark twice in his
long life and then only briefly (first trip a few hours tax-free shopping and
second trip about 2 weeks).

I remember, back in the sixties, when the first of the “new-wave” immigrants
started to arrive, mainly from (then) Yugoslavia and Turkey.
Actually they were guest workers, actively encouraged by the Danish government to come here.
My brother used to call them date-pickers, regardless where they came from
and it was clear that he would rather they did not come.

Many years later, when I was back in Denmark in 2001, his favourite joke was:
”Did you know that the Supplementary Benefit Law is the first chapter of the Quran?” – which he thought was very funny.
Although I was still several years away from formally becoming a practising Muslim I had very strong sympathies and empathies for Islam and Muslims.
So, obviously, I was not amused, in fact I was offended, not only on behalf of
Islam and Muslims but in a more general way – that my older brother still had
such a limited view of the world.

True to form, he proudly votes for the far-right Danish People’s Party (founded in 1995), as do sadly also both of my two nieces and their husbands.
In last November’s general election the DPP got almost 14% of the votes and
therefore 25 seats in the 179-member parliament, an increase of 1 from the previous election.
Can anyone explain why so many in such an (otherwise) educated and enlightened nation as Denmark vote for such simplistic not to say primitive concepts and ideas??

As you all know, this is currently not just a Danish phenomenon – many other European nations face the same problem.
That well-known Islamophobe Geert Wilders, Dutch MP, visited Copenhagen a few weeks ago and spoke to several hundred members, including parliamentarians, of the DPP. His suggested “solution” to the “problem” of the creeping Islamisation of Europe? 1. Ban the Quran -2. Close Islamic schools -
3. Stop immigration. It is desperately sad that an otherwise intelligent man can utter such fascistic nonsense and sadder still that so many take him seriously! Whatever else it may be, it is precisely as fundamentalist, radical, extremist, inflammatory etc (you recognise the terms!) as the groups he and others like him hate so much!
As an aside, presumably Geert Wilders would still welcome immigration to the
EU from both America and Israel?!!?
He is known to have visited Israel more than 40 times and of course he is free
to travel where he wants but it does raise serious questions about where he gets his instructions from.

If such attitudes become the prevailing ones, which of course is not the case yet but in Denmark we are approaching a critical point, what chances are there
for Muslims, and other minorities for that matter but Muslims are overwhelming seen as “the problem and the threat”, to make a success
of integration even if they sincerely want to?
The way my brother speaks, he makes it totally obvious that either they should behave like us or “go back where they came from” as he so childishly puts it, and if they don’t want to go we should throw them out.
Denmark in fact a few years ago introduced a voluntary repatriation scheme, offering substantial financial incentives to enable those who accepted the deal to start up again in their home countries.
I have no statistics to hand at the moment as to whether the plan has been a success or failure but will report back here if and when I find out.
But my feeling is that it is most unlikely to be popular.

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