The reality is diverse – the policy is intercultural

 

based on a article by Anna Mee Allerslev, Mayor of employment and integration in Copenhagen published in "Weekendavisen" in Danish. Translation from Danish: Karen Overgaard

 

My policy is intercultural, not multicultural, and the difference is essential.

 

In Copenhagen 1 in 3 pupils and 1 in 4 employees are of a minority background.

 

Multiculturalism as an ideology contains privileges, special arrangements and special forums for ethnic minorities. Rights and resources are given according to ethnic and religious barriers. Thus these barriers between the groups might strengthen, parallel communities be cemented and the social connection weakened – as we see the UK, e.g.

 

Mine and Copenhagen’s approach to integration is intercultural. It acknowledges the rights of minorities to being culturally different. But the main focus lies in the relations between the groups: more and better meetings and to promote a shared basis, a shared understanding, empathy and visions. Instead of celebrating the differences, interculturalism seeks to promote the participation of minority groups in existing institutions and to create a shared identity.

 

And it works rather well. Several analyses, recently "Muslims in Europe", show that ethnic minorities feel far more "Copenhagish" than Danish. Of the Copenhagen City Council 16% are of non Danish origin – nearly the same part as the population.

 

In Copenhagen the inclusion work is carried out within the framework of freedom of speech, equality and human rights. It is most of all the fundamental Danish and Western European values we try to make all citizens of Copenhagen respect and pay tribute to. There is a distinct line in the sand at these 4 values – they apply unconditionally in Denmark as in Copenhagen. Fortunately, research from Professor Peter Grundelach shows that ethnic Danes and ethnic minorities hold similar values – also the democratic values.

 

Antidemocratic movements must be fought against efficiently. In Copenhagen we do not accept when citizens set aside the democratic values. But we don’t just scream the pretemptuous into their faces that either they assimilate or quit! Provocations by extremists split the citizens, cause anger and exclude minorities.

 

In Copenhagen we enter into dialogue, we influence and via our intercultural philosophy we try to avoid undemocratic views to spread. Because we must remember that the non-democratic forces are a small minority. There is still a back-log concerning education, work and criminality. The point simply is that we must find the right solutions, not scream us apart.

 

We 20 other cities Copenhagen takes part in the Intercultural City network. In the first comparison of their efforts of integration Copenhagen was 5th. My aim is being 1st in 2015.

 

Photo: Anna Mee Allerslev, Mayor of employment and integration in Copenhagen