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Prejudices in Gellerup Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Daily Life, Denmark and the World, Religion

This week I’ve got a guest blogger helping me. Say hello to Elsebeth! Working as a trainee at a local newspaper, she helped making a really interesting survey of the prejudices between the many ethnic groups that live in Gellerup, Århus…

The convert Mariam Mikkelsen.

Here in Gellerupparken (The Gellerup Park) near Århus, where I live, there are more than 80 different nationalities. Most of the inhabitants are Arabs, Turks and Somalis – only about 10 % are ethnic Danes.

They all have fordom/me (prejudice/s) against each other, and at the local news site gellerup.nu we’ve investigated what people really think about each other. We also made a brainstorm in order to find our own prejudices against others.

The Swede Anett Sällsäter Christiansen puts it like this: ”Everyone has the same prejudices against each other, which are passed on to their children.” For Somalis, tax and terrorism issues loom large, and for some Danish converts (to Islam) the main claim is that they’re supposed to be more rabid and extremist than those who were born Muslims.

Mariam Mikkelsen, who converted to Islam at the age of 19, doesn’t think her group is more ”rabid”. She does think, however, that as a new Muslim, you’re more careful of doing everything right, as opposed to one who was born a Muslim and has grown up with the culture. They don’t care about what other people are saying. ”We don’t want to waste our time thinking negatively,” Mariam Mikkelsen explains.

Danes are often told that they drink too much, and that they are cold towards fremmede (foreigners). Unfortunately, that was a claim which the Danes in the survey would confirm. So not every prejudice in this survey could be disproved, and that’s a shame when you’re a Dane and like to think of yourself as an open and tolerant human being who doesn’t drink too much. I guess it takes more than an interview to change our opinions of each other, but it was worth a try!

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.