Open debate in the press about important issues is one of the most refreshing things about public life in Denmark. Here in the USA we have a press that is theoretically free, but which self-censors to the point of parody. Major American media do not stray past a certain line of decorum — for example, the Motoons were never published in any significant media outlet in the USA.
In much of the rest of Europe, public discussion is both constrained by law and tightly bound by a stifling social consensus. But Denmark is different, and topics that are taboo in most parts of the West are routinely aired in the Danish press.
Islam causes youth to go astray
New book blames Islam for immigrant crime rates being significantly above the Danish average
by Thomas Ambrosius
Islam inhibits integration and is causes a higher frequency of crime — but the municipality of Copenhagen turns a blind eye to this fact. This is the controversial message in the new Danish book Blandt Kriminelle Muslimer (“Amongst Criminal Muslims”), which will be published next week (February 24th, 2009). The author of the book is psychologist Nicolai Sennels, who until last year was working at the secure youth institution Sønderbro in Copenhagen, Denmark. Nicolai Sennels criticizes the municipality for a policy of too much carrot and too little stick in efforts directed at youngsters with a Muslim background.
“Even though it’s a taboo to mention it, it is a fact that culture and religion makes a difference. Criminal youth with a Muslim background perceive the Danish approach in secure institutions, schools, and other institutions to be weak. The Danish approach is one that encourages self-reflection, but they do not understand this. They get the impression that they are not punished for their actions, and this causes them to lose respect for the system,” he says, and blames the way children are raised in Muslim families, which emphasize consequence, tradition, and religion.
He hopes that his book will open the eyes among politicians and in the social system. Integration Advisor Manu Sareen partly agrees with Nicolai Sennels:
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“Social circumstances may explain the main part of the differences in crime levels, but culture also has significance. For instance, many immigrant parents permit their boys to be out in the streets late at night, where they cause destruction and commit other crime. It is our duty as a society to teach these parents to raise their children properly,” says Manu Sareen, who also states that Nicolai Sennels makes an untenable correlation between Islam and crime.
Jan Andreasen (Social Democrats), member of the Committee for Integration in the municipality of Copenhagen, acknowledges that cultural problems have been neglected for years:
“But during the latest three years we have broken the negative trend, and we are quite aware that we may need a firmer approach in the secure institutions.”
Nicolai Sennels rejects that the trend has reversed:
“The fact is that in Copenhagen the percentage of immigrants among young criminals has risen from 56 percent in 2007 to 67 percent in 2008, he says.
“The municipality of Copenhagen has not comprehended that this group of youth with Muslim backgrounds needs a different approach than those with a Western background.”
— Nicolai Sennels, psychologist
In 2005, 22 percent of all males of immigrant descent aged 20-29 were convicted one or more crimes. The corresponding number for ethnic Danish men of the same age was 9.8 percent. Around 70 percent of the inmates of secure youth institutions have non-Danish ethnic background.