The City of Copenhagen received 100 reports of potentially radicalized residents in 2015, a 66 percent increase over the year before.
Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for integration, Anna Mee Allerslev, said the city actually views the significant increase as a positive development.
“It is actually a success parameter for us, because it means that there is trust in us and that parents, friends and acquaintances believe that they can come to us [with concerns about radicalization],” she told broadcaster DR.
Copenhagen’s anti-radicalization programme, VINK, said that most of the reports of potentially radicalized residents come from workers within the public sector.
“Municipal employees contact us if they, for example, notice rapid behaviour changes and young poeple go from being just like their peers to very religous and maybe try to exercise religous control over others. Then it’s serious,” VINK project leader Muhammad Hee told DR.
Hee said that parents also report their children’s radicalization after efforts to talk to their kids themselves don’t work.
Of the 100 referrals received in 2015, 18 were judged to be serious enough to warrant the city’s anti-radicalization efforts which include a mentor programme and a coaching programme for parents.
In August, Copenhagen became one of the first major cities to present a comprehensive plan to combat radicalization.
A group fronted by Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defence College, presented 15 recommendations, including better cooperation between authorities, more coordinated prevention efforts and increased community dialogue in radicalized environments.
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Ranstorp told The Local that a key element of the plan is to utilize" former radicals who have now seen the light” and send them in to areas like Copenhagen’s Mjølnerparken housing estate. That neighbourhood was home to the gunman who killed two in last year's terror attacks and is also where 86 percent of residents have an immigrant background and 46 percent have no job.
“You can’t just sing songs around the campfire. You have to also stick your hand in the fire. There are a lot of people who are really good at reaching troubled youth and we need to utilize them to help establish relationships,” Ranstorp said.