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Not a new problem!

Reader comment on item: Something Rotten in Denmark?

Submitted by Kristine Eriksen (Canada), Jan 14, 2003 at 10:29

Your articles popped up again on a danish site and I was directed here by a link. Having read all of what has been said here I would like to comment that these problems have existed for at least 15 years. In 1986 there was a large influx of Middle Eastern immigrants. They were housed together in converted hotels and were given clothes, a bike and spending money( this was published in newspapers and railed against by many) in addition to whatever other social welfare assistance the government provided. I remember as a non-Dane I was not overly affected by this, but I do remember that there was a big uproar by many Danes as unemployment was high and they felt that the money was better served by helping those already Danish.

I do also remember being uncomfortable going downtown in Esbjerg because these young men hung together in large groups blocking the sidewalks without giving way to women with children and their prams. Was this a lack of respect for women? Possibly, but more probable is that there was simply nothing else for them to do. I attended Danish for immigrant language classes during this time and there was not one single Arabic speaking student. There were however many others. These classes were offered but no one was required to take them and very few of these immigrants did. I can understand that in the smaller towns that the residents resented when their populations increased by almost 50% due to immigration and the fact that an effort was not made by the newcomers to intergrate. They were vocal in preferring to practice their language and customs, as my understanding was, that they were more refugees than actual immigrants and that they would in fact be returning home again when it was "safe" for them to do so. In that case, I could understand not assimlating right away, but how many actually did return home later and stay?

This was a problem then and appears according to this article to still exist. However, I will say, tongue in cheek, that this perceived persecution was not limited to those practiing Islam or speaking Arabic. In fact, as an American I was held personally accountable for the actions and polices of my government (elected without my consent as I was too young to vote at that time.) ridiculed and made to feel totally unwelcome by a few, ignorant people with nothing better to do. Did I scream about it and call all Danes racist, absolutely NOT! This problem has existed in every country I have lived in including the United States and Canada. It is a whole wide issue and needs to be dealt with as such.

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