Racism in Denmark: Video of Muslim family suffering verbal abuse ignites political debate

‘We’re part of this society’: Mother of two leads calls for acceptance and inclusion

Several protests have taken place across Denmark in recent months against the government's plan to deport Syrian refugees, seen as part of growing anti-immigrant policies in the country. Getty Images.
Several protests have taken place across Denmark in recent months against the government's plan to deport Syrian refugees, seen as part of growing anti-immigrant policies in the country. Getty Images.

A video of a Danish man verbally abusing a couple and their two small children has gone viral, prompting several Danish politicians including Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to condemn the racist act.

Kodes Hamdi was with her husband and children on a day out at Kastrup Harbour in the suburbs of Copenhagen when a man approached and began shouting at them.

In a video film by Mrs Hamdi, the man, who has yet to be identified, can be heard yelling: “What are you doing here? Get lost!” before shouting profanities.

“This here, this is not your country, damn it,” he said. “You are guests here ... look at your skin colour, you’re yellow, you don’t belong here”.

Mrs Hamdi posted the video on her Facebook page and it has been shared more than 5,000 times and received thousands of comments.

In her written post accompanying the video, Mrs Hamdi said she decided to share the incident publicly because she had “had enough” and wanted to show people how offensive racism could be.

“So far, I have chosen to turn the other cheek because I was raised like that, but I don't want to any more. I don't allow another human to belittle me or my family as a human being first and foremost,” she wrote.

Mrs Hamdi, a math teacher, told Danish news outlet TV2 News that she felt emboldened to stand up to the racist abuse because of her children.

“I’m still shaken. Seeing my children affected by such a horrible thing can turn me into a lioness,” she said.

The prime minister expressed her dismay at the incident.

“Parents and two small children were unreasonably forced to endure shocking and racist words due to their skin colour. That affected me,” Ms Frederiksen wrote on Facebook.

“The family had the courage to stand up in the face of the situation. We all have a responsibility to speak out – against racism, hate and discrimination. It doesn’t belong in Denmark.”

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote against the racist attack on social media. AFP.
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wrote against the racist attack on social media. AFP.

According to police figures, registered hate crimes increased by 27 per cent from 2018 to 2019, the Copenhagen Post Online reported.

Racially motivated hate crimes accounted for 312 of those, while 180 related to religion.

Politicians from all of Denmark’s mainstream parties condemned the incident, including representatives of the anti-immigration, populist right-wing Danish People’s Party. But some critics believe the party is among those fuelling rising racial tensions in the country.

Several protests took place across Denmark against the government’s recent decision to revoke the residencies of several hundred Syrian refugees in an attempt to return them to Damascus, which Danish ministers now consider “safe”.

Mrs Hamdi reported the incident to the police and thanked four “awesome” officers who came to her assistance. However, it’s unlikely the perpetrator will face any legal punishment because of the non-violent nature of the abuse.

Lawyer and member of the Liberal Alliance Party, Jan E Jorgensen, raised questions on whether the current laws were fit for purpose.

“It must be a criminal offence to verbally attack a family that has not done anything wrong,” he said.

Denmark has been ranked in the top three happiest countries for several years and is often seen as a beacon of tolerance and liberty.

In her lengthy Facebook post, Mrs Hamdi urged people to “stop racism” and accept the differences among people.

“So we can proudly call ourselves the happiest and most colourful country!” she wrote. “This is also my country and I am also part of this society. So are my boys and everyone else with different skin colours, attitudes and beliefs.”

Updated: May 27, 2021 05:55 PM

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