What are Denmark’s racism and antisemitism ‘action plans’?

Denmark has this week announced what it terms ‘plans of action’ against racism and antisemitism. What changes could the plans bring about?

Danish officials and chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark Henri Goldstein present the government's action plan against antisemitism in Copenhagen on January 25th 2022.
Danish officials and chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark Henri Goldstein present the government's action plan against antisemitism in Copenhagen on January 25th 2022. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

On Monday, the government, along with left wing parties and the Christian Democrats, announced that spending from the 2022 budget would be set aside for a “plan of action” (handlingsplan in Danish) aimed at tackling racism.

The plan of action will “fight racism broadly in society, and its initiatives will stretch from the labour market and education to culture and hate crimes,” a Justice Ministry press statement read.

“But first and foremost, the extent and character of racism must be established,” it added.

Money set aside to fight hate crime in the 2022 budget will be partially spent on the action plan. The budget includes 8.2 billion kroner in 2022 and 8.1 billion kroner annually from 2023-25 for prevention of hate crimes.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: How could Denmark’s 2022 budget affect foreign residents?

The government and other signatory parties to the budget want to “make a plan of action that fights racism in all its ugly manifestations,” Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup said in the statement.

“It’s not befitting of Denmark that we have people in this country who experience hate crimes and being turned away from nightlife, jobs and housing solely because of their ethnic heritage. Nobody should be subjected to racism and discrimination. A plan of action against racism will contribute to a more safe and secure society for everyone in Denmark,” Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) spokesperson Samira Nawa said in the statement.

The racism action plan will begin with a report on the known extent and character of racism in Denmark with further political discussion to take place in the second half of this year, according to the press statement.

The government on Tuesday announced a separate action plan against antisemitism.

The antisemitism action plan was formed in dialogue with community organisation the Jewish Community in Denmark (Det Jødiske Samfund), which provided the setting for a briefing at which the plan was presented by officials on Tuesday.

Included in the plan are 15 initiatives aimed at broadly tackling antisemitism in Denmark.

These include mandatory teaching about the Holocaust at schools, lessons on Danish-Jewish history and police training to prevent radicalisation. It will also promote interfaith dialogue between young people.

More targeted research into antisemitism will also be funded, including on areas of society in which antisemitism is prevalent.

In a statement, the government said that a directive to put together an antisemitism plan was issued in response to incidents of vandalism at Jewish graveyards in several locations in Denmark.

The aim of the plan is to “prevent antisemitism putting down roots in Denmark,” the Justice Ministry statement said.

“Antisemitism has sadly become a bigger problem in Denmark in recent years. We know from European studies that some Danish Jews avoid wearing items that can identify them as Jews and that some are harassed at school or work because they are Jewish,” Hækkerup said in the statement.

“We can and will not accept that,” he added.

The chairman of the Jewish Community in Denmark Henri Goldstein praised the plan at Tuesday’s briefing.

“I think to the highest possible degree that this plan is good. It’s thorough. But we will have to wait for 5 to 10 years to see whether it has had the effect it needs to,” Goldstein said according to broadcaster DR’s report.

The antisemitism action plan can be read in full (in Danish) on the ministry’s website.

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Danish broadcaster apologises for ‘unintended racism’ in segment on Moroccan football team

Danish broadcaster TV2 has issued an apology in Danish and English after a segment in which its presenters appeared to compare Moroccan footballers and their families with monkeys.

Danish broadcaster apologises for ‘unintended racism' in segment on Moroccan football team

Denmark’s broadcaster TV2 has apologised for a segment which it said made an “unintentional” comparison between Morocco’s footballers and a family of monkeys, in a clip that has now been reported by international media in the Middle East.

In a segment on the programme News & Co. about Morocco’s footballers celebrating with their mothers after World Cup matches, TV2 presenters appeared to compare them with a photograph of monkeys which was the subject of the following segment.

While one presenter, Søren Lippert, holds a photo of a family of monkeys, co-presenter Christian Høgh Andersen says “this is in extension of Morocco gathering their families in Qatar”.

“We have an animal family gathered here, maybe to stay warm,” he continues as the camera pans onto the photo.

Asked by another voice out of picture why he’s making a connection between the two, Andersen says “because they’re sticking together, and that’s also what they’re doing with the family reunification in Morocco”. He uses the Danish legal term for family reunification, fammiliesammenføring.

Both Lippert and Andersen responded after the clip was spread on social media with an English translation added.

Lippert, who was holding the picture but didn’t make the remarks, said that “however unintentional, the comparison made in the program is not ok”.

In a longer statement posted on Facebook, Andersen said he wanted to give an “unreserved apology” for the comments.

“In a poor attempt at humour I drew a line between sticking together as a family when the next topic about animals was presented in the studio,” he wrote.

“Unintentionally it became a comparison between Morocco’s national football team and the family of monkeys which my co-host Søren Lippert was holding a picture of and which we were using for the next segment,” he wrote.

“I am very sorry and I want to give an unreserved apology for this,” he wrote.

The broadcaster published an apology in Danish and English on its website, saying that the section “can be perceived as a racist comment, and both TV2 and Christian Høgh Andersen would like to give a profound apology for that.”

“We deeply apologize that a host on TV2 News made a comment that is both wrong and offensive. Although it was not the intention of the host, it is a remark that both our host and TV2 dissociate from. This was a clear mistake, we apologize for it, and we will take it into account in our work at TV2 News,” the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief Anne Mette Svane said in the statement.

“TV2 has apologized to the viewers who have contacted TV2, and also believes it is necessary to dissociate from the inappropriate comment publicly,” the statement adds.

The broadcaster has also apologised on social media in response to international media reporting on the clip, including by Qatar-based media al-Jazeera.

The incident was not the only time the broadcaster came under pressure for inappropriate comments during the World Cup.

In November, commentator Thomas Kristensen was criticised for comparing Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku with King Kong during live commentary. Kristensen defended the remark by saying he meant to compare Lukaku with “a monster who everyone is scared of, and nothing else”.