Interior ministry’s proposed limit of 30% part of bill to crack down further on poor neighbourhoods
Denmark has announced plans to crack down further on disadvantaged neighbourhoods by reducing the number of “non-western” residents, scrapping the controversial term “ghetto” in its proposed legislation.
In the bill – a review of existing legislation on combatting “parallel societies” – the interior ministry proposed that the share of residents of “non-western” origin in each neighbourhood be limited to a maximum of 30% within 10 years.
Denmark has for years had one of Europe’s most restrictive immigration policies, which the Social Democratic prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, has continued since coming to power in June 2019.
The interior minister, Kaare Dybvad Bek, said in a statement that too many non-western foreigners in one area “increases the risk of an emergence of religious and cultural parallel societies”.
He said, however, that the term “ghetto”, used to designate disadvantaged neighbourhoods, would be removed from the new legislation.
“The term ghetto is misleading … I think it contributes to eclipsing the large amount of work that needs doing in these neighbourhoods,” he said.
Until now, the term was used legally to designate any neighbourhood of more than 1,000 people where more than half were of “non-western” origin, and which met at least two of four other criteria.
The four criteria are: more than 40% of residents unemployed; more than 60% of 39-50 year-olds with no upper secondary education; crime rates three times higher than the national average; residents having a gross income 55% lower than the regional average.
Fifteen Danish neighbourhoods currently fall into this category, and 25 others are considered “at risk”. The list is updated each December.
In these neighbourhoods, misdemeanours carry double the legal penalties in place elsewhere, and daycare is mandatory for all children over the age of one, or family allowances are withdrawn.
The existing legislation also calls for council homes in these areas to be reduced to 40% of available housing by 2030.
Danish political parties will discuss the bill and it is expected to pass, though no date has been set for the vote.
According to Statistics Denmark, 11% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants are of foreign origin, of whom 58% are from a country considered “non-western”.