|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Culture Government Community Social issue|
The Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the political class in Denmark have made many remarks and written a lot on the integration of the "ghettos" initiative. In the 2018 New Year speech, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen insisted on the need to address inequality in the country. He noted that as the growth in inequality is noted in other major countries of the world, Denmark is not exceptional, and it has to address the issue head-on to ensure the Danish nationalism is maintained (Ritzau, 2018). Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen insisted that although Denmark is a small country, the Danish have the ability to achieve a great, wealthy, and open society where sustainability and well-being go hand in hand. On social controls, the Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen insisted that the marginalized neighborhoods or Ghettos should never overshadow the Danish norms and laws (Ritzau, 2018). The Premier was categorical that in the year 2018, he was prepared to ensure the government prepares special laws to tackle the social problems in ghettos. In fact, he insisted on ensuring that ghettos no longer exist in Denmark in the near future. He pointed out the government can pull down the ghettos and house the ghetto residents in different areas to ensure there is full integration of the ghetto residents into the Danish culture, language, and values (Ritzau, 2018). Thus according to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the ghetto residents are a threat to the Danish language culture and values.
In 2018, there were many parliamentary debates and bills passed on how to address the social problems in ghetto neighborhoods. Bill L38 is one of the discussed bills in the first session, and the bill proposed for a new law to amend the existing public housing law, and the law on renting public houses as well as the law on rent (Parliament Debate, 2018). The bill was meant to address four main areas; first is developing new criteria for establishing residential areas that are exposed. Second, was to develop initiatives to develop the ghetto areas. Third, was tightening rules on rent and forth was to address crime by canceling leases. From the debate, it is evident that the Danish political class is concerned with how to mitigate the ghetto residents from eroding the Danish norms, culture, values, and laws. According to the Danish parliamentarians, the ghettos create a parallel society that needs to be controlled to minimize the social problems in the ghettos (Amnesty International, 2019). In a bid to address the ghetto social problems, in November 2018, the government passes a bill on urban regeneration that would introduce "ghettos" to non-profit housing.
The 2018 Danish strategic paper against ghettos proposes that Denmark should be free from all ghettos by the year 2030. According to the strategic paper, the government is interested in ensuring that Denmark is a coherent nation and that it is based on its traditional values of legal security, freedom, liberty, equality, and tolerance(Ngo, 2018, 16). The government is also out to see that all people in Denmark participate actively in the development of the country, and this can also be achieved if Denmark is coherent and without parallel societies that may pose a threat to Denmark's nationalism. The strategic paper notes that the population of immigrants from non-Western countries has greatly increased over the last 40 years. In 1980, there were about 50,000 immigrants from non-Western countries living in ghettos, while in 2018, the number grew to above 500,000 (Strategy Paper, 2018). The paper also notes that many of the immigrants are doing well in terms of participating in the development of Denmark. However, there are many others who do not actively participate in national building leading to the emergency of parallel societies. The strategic paper points out that parallel society poses a great burden on the integration of Danish society.
Secondary sources of information including research journals and books indicate that Danish "ghettos " pose a threat to the government integration initiative, but the "ghettos" and the spring up of parallel societies in Denmark is attributed to many factors including unemployment of the "ghettos areas" residents specifically the immigrants from non-western countries, low-income levels, low education levels, poor family background, and crime(Simonsen, 2018, p.23). Denmark's education system is rigid to the extent that a Syrian immigrant who is a medical doctor by profession must convert his degree to Danish to be considered as a professional in Denmark or else is not considered as a professional. The rigidity of the education system is in line with protecting the Danish nationalism but is also considered as a way of considering the immigrants, specifically those from non-western countries like others. The initiatives to eradicate ghettos by the year 2030, Hammond, S. (2018, p. 112) notes that it may be a way of depriving the people with low income their housing privileges based on an increase in crime hence leading to stigmatization.
Based on analysis of both the primary and secondary data on the Danish government efforts to eradicate ghettos by 2030, On the first research question how has the Danish government discursively constructed "ghetto" in the political strategy in 2018, the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen construe the "ghetto" as a possible hotspot towards the Danish values, norms, and laws (Strategy Paper, 2018). His call for addressing the social problems in the ghetto is an indication that the threat of the ghettos to the Danish norms and laws is high or on the rise hence the call for the immediate address to the issues to protect the Danish nationalism (Mechlenborg, 2019, p.21). The Danish parliament is also keen on creating laws on how to address social problems in ghetto neighborhoods. The 2018 strategic paper provides a roadmap towards having a ghetto free Denmark by 2030. With the fact that most ghetto residents are immigrants from non-Western countries and are characterized by unemployment and high crime rates, this may greatly affect the Danish norm and laws. All the initiatives by the prime minister, the parliament, and strategic paper are towards protecting Danish nationalism (Perrigo, 2018, p.68). On the second question on how and why the legal and institutional manifestation of the political strategy related to othering and social exclusion, it is evident that the creation of tough and strict rules including increasing the punishment for crime among ghetto residents. This is a manifestation that the Danish consider the immigrants from non-Western countries as others with a potential threat to the Danish norms and laws if they are not controlled.
In a sitting in parliament, some political leaders referred to the "ghettos" as "holes in Denmark's map," for they had the conviction that these are areas where the Danish language, culture, and values may get lost in the coming generations since they do not share common culture and values as the Danish. By the end of 2018, the Danish government had demarcated 25 "ghettos" scattered throughout Denmark with most of its residents from non-Western countries like Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey (Grünenberg and Freiesleben, 2018, p. 64). According to the Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the population of the first and second generation of immigrants from non-Western countries living in the "ghettos" had risen from 50,000 in 1980 to 500,000 in 2018 (Strategy Paper, 2018). People with similar problems have clustered together for long, possibly resulting in parallel societies in Denmark. With the high rise in the number of immigrants from non-Western countries, there is a need to integrate the "ghetto" population into the Danish culture and values.
Parliamentarians in Denmark have shown to be against the parallel societies which are developed by immigrants, specifically those from non-western countries. Parliamentarians have proposed and passed many bills to contain the growth of ghettos and parallel societies. The legislators have also passed strict and harsh restrictions on low-income ghetto residents who are mainly immigrants from non-western countries. It is evident that in the ghettos, there are many social problems that include low-income levels, unemployment, and crime(Graham-Harrison and Rasmussen, 2016). However, the thresholds set by Denmark are high compared to global standards. For example, it is estimated that 2.7 percent of the ghetto population has a criminal record, and that is the threshold set by the government for ghetto status(Simonsen, 2016). However, compared to the non-ghetto residents, crime in the ghettos is higher; hence the creation of the law to double punishment for ghetto based criminals shall significantly reduce crime rates in the ghettos.
On education status, it is no doubt that most ghetto residents have low education levels since the Danish government uses very controversial metrics that excludes any other education qualifications attained outside Denmark (Overgaard, 2018, p. 33). With the fact that most ghetto residents are immigrants mostly from non-western countries, then automatically they fall below the education level thresholds as required by the Danish government. Integration with the Danish language, culture, and values is a concern in the ghettos as people with a similar plight are grouped to live together hence develops new societies that become parallel societies to the mainstream Danish society (Moraga, Ferrer-i-Carbonell and Saiz, 2019, p.11). The laws on education to improve integration are a positive law since it enhances the integration of immigrant communities into Danish culture and life. Children from the ghettos at the pre-school level are required to spend about 25 hours every week in state kindergartens to be rained on the Danish language without which their families face revoking of their benefits (Kirkegaard and Bjerrekær, 2016, p.22). This law encourages early learning of the Danish language, culture, and values hence promote integration. The laws on slashing the public housing stock by over 40 percent will significantly impact the ghetto residents, but it shall be effective towards the attainment of the strategic goal of converting the public houses into cooperative and private houses. All the efforts to eradicate ghettos is meant to protect the Danish nationalism from parallel societies (Hafner, 2016, p. 8). From the analysis of the secondary sources, it is evident that the ghettos are a potential threat to Danish nationalism, and with the increase in the number of Immigrants specifically from non-western countries, there is a need to tame the immigrants towards the Danish norms and law. Parallel societies are a potential threat to the politics of small countries like Denmark; hence the Danish government has to highly protect its nationality. Also, the "others" aspect on the immigrants is evident as the native Danish feel the immigrants pose a threat to their traditional norms and values. Addressing the first research question, the Danish government construes the ghettos as the epicenters of parallel societies that can pose a threat to the Danish norms and laws. Laws on education, crime control, and housing have been amended to ensure there is strict control on the immigrants' population living in the ghettos. This strict control of the immigrants living in the ghettos is an indication that they belong to the "others" among the native Danish population.
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