The Danish newspaper Politiken reports (my translation):
According to Aalborg Police, approximately 110 threating letters have been mailed directly to northern Jutlanders with Muslim-sounding names.
"In the past, we have had individual cases of racism but nothing at all on this scale. So we take it very seriously. It is deeply tasteless action and a punishable offense," said Chief Criminal Inspector Aage Nøgaar Jensen, Aalborg Police.
Threats and racism
He reports that the letters are a mix of threats and racist remarks, plus pictures of among others Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess.
Both the Center for Documenting and Counseling against Racial Discrimination [Have no idea what the official English name is for the Dokumentations- og Rådgivningscenteret mod Racediskrimination. -Svend] and the Institute for Human Rights have stated that this is the first time they’ve registered something of this sort here at home [i.e., in Denmark].
"We have not experienced such a surge before. It should be taken very seriously because the general political climate–and the way we discuss foreigners today–can provide fertile ground for extremism and because the police are increasingly concerned about far-right groups," says Morten Kjærum, Director of the Institue for Human Rights.
More complaints filed with police
The threatening letters come at a time when numbers of complaints about racist abuse filed with the police are on the rise. According to the Danish Security Intelligence Service (PET), the number rose from 37 in 2004 to 81 in 2005. [And during the first half of 2006, we have over 110. -Svend]
PET Chief Criminal Inspector Ørting Jørgensen will not comment specifically on the case, but acknowledges that the agency is taking these developments seriously.
"I can confirm that this year we have seen a higher level of activity, especially on the far right. Various forms of threats, intimidation, and harassment are being resorted to to create conflict between the broader society and ethnic minorities."
Here’s an example of one of the letters (click the image above to see the original), which the bigots considerately composed in English:
Your fucking treasonable helpers, such as "Radikale Venstre", "SF", "Enhedslisten", "DKP" and "Antiracistisk Netværk" [Leftist political parties. –Svend] can’t help you in the longer term. They are few compared with the national majority. Before the civil war (Svendborg, just a silent, vague start) a last reminder: GET OUT OF HERE!!!!
["Free Denmark" –Svend]
– It means you don’t belong here, bastard!
The sentiments of this fascinating missive are the the logical and predictable outcome of the confrontation with Muslims engineered by Jyllands-Posten in the "defense" of free speech, not to mention the kind of careless rhetoric about Turks in Germany that I commented on yesterday.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that needless confrontations that pit the majority against an already unpopular and misunderstood minority will result in outbreaks of bigotry and nativism of this sort. So it’s no surprise that Denmark is now seeing Neo-Nazi agitation against foreigners normally associated with Germany.
I don’t for a minute imagine that these vile sentiments represent the average Dane, but it’s probably fair to surmise that such attitudes are becoming less uncommon and more socially acceptable in the post-cartoon era. More importantly, these atavistic passions are the logical outcome of the anti-Muslim hysteria one sees in Danish politics (and, increasing, in some sectors of dank, smelly corners of American politics and media).
This is what happens when responsible leaders remain silent day after day as hardliners bash immigrants as the root of all evil in the public square. When people hear something go unchallenged enough, they will eventually believe it. It’s a lesson that many leaders across Europe would do well to consider.
P.S. It’s interesting that the letter should mention Svendborg (which, I modestly note, literally means "City of Svend"), a small town in the south of Funen where I once lived.
I spent some time in the mid-1990s with my grandmother Kamma, who passed away two years ago (God rest her soul). It’s a cozy and sleepy little coastal town.
I have fond memories of wandering its quite cobbled downtown streets, chasing her poor cat Mathilda around the house during childhood visits from the US, and later as an adult making my poor mormor (Danish for maternal grandmother) watch really bad American action movies (not to see the movies, but to elicit her hilarious reactions).
Wasn’t aware of any problems with immigrants there. Would some kind Dane lurking out there mind filling me in? I would’ve expected problems in Odense (where I also lived) before Svendborg.