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Mapping Minorities and their Media: The National Context – Denmark By Mustafa Hussain 1
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Introduction During the New-Year’s celebrations at the turn of the millennium 2000, when most of the world leaders and representatives of royal houses were sending messages of peace, fraternity, tolerance and racial harmony in their respective countries and the world at large, the then Social Democrat Prime Minister of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen in his traditional New Year TV-address to the nation expressed his concern about the ethnic situation in the country with the following message: “it is a real problem if the Danish families in certain residential areas begin to feel that they have become strangers in their own country”. (DR-TV, 1.1. 2000) What the former Prime Minister had in his mind was the often debated issue of concentration of visible ethnic minorities from a range of Third – i.e. not EU – Countries, in specific neighbourhoods of the large Danish cities e.g. Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense, and the related emphasis on crime among the migrants residing in such ‘ghettoised’ residential quarters. To erase any doubts on who those “others” are , who are the very subjects of the real problem, Mr. Rasmussen added that “everybody should accept those values , which the Danish society is built upon”. Obviously, he was not talking about the “white” and the Christian minorities of Europe or North America who constitute the largest number of foreign citizens in this little kingdom of over 5,3 million inhabitants. Until the late 1960s, Denmark was quite a homogeneous society in terms of language and culture. Except for a small number of indigenous minorities such as German-speaking minority in the South Jotland and migrants from Greenland, Iceland and Ferro Islands, and few thousands refugees from Hungry, insignificant number of descendants of the Dutch and Polish agricultural labour, and a small community of Jews, there was no group of people living in the kingdom who could fulfil the criteria of diaspora as defined by Cohen (1997), despite the fact that religious minorities have been living in the country, and sought shelter from persecution in other European societies (i.e. the Jews from Eastern Europe , the Hugonots of France) for centuries. The relatively large scale labour migration to Denmark , and for the first time from the outer boundaries of the European political geography, took place in the late 1960s when the expansion of after-WWII economy and industry necessitated import of foreign labour from former Yugoslavia and Turkey, followed by small number of arrivals of immigrant workers from Asia and North Africa. During this period of a high labour demand, a very small number of Southern Europeans (i.e., Italians, Greeks) also made their way to this relatively remote and cold climate of the Nordic countries.
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  • Fall '08
  • KLIN
  • Media, Minority group, ethnic minorities, Minority language, diasporic minorities

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