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Observations in the Nørrebro Neighborhood

From my book, An Introduction to Danish Culture. Norrebro was where the assassin was killed by Danish police.

A few days after my visit to Faaborg, I was strolling through contemporary Copenhagen in the bustling Nørrebro neighborhood. I could see how a major traffic thoroughfare reserved for bus traffic only and where parking for motorists was strictly forbidden, had been expropriated as a No-Go area for “ordinary citizens” (i.e. the non-Muslim majority). The lane along a stretch of  the neighborhood’s major thoroughfare, Nørrebrogade, has been taken over by parked cars that are utilized by shop owners (all Muslim) to store their wares (predominantly fruit and vegetables) or simply expropriated by “passers-by” who have illegally parked, knowing full well that the Danish police and parking officials will not uphold the law against Muslims. This is nothing less than the existence of a separate law for those who now constitute a parallel culture under protection of their own Sharia law that are off limits to all others.

A few years ago, such a development would have been unimaginable. Even taxis are forbidden to use the special bus lane reserved for “collective traffic” and drivers violating the edict are subject to stiff fines. Actually parking in the lane would have been an inconceivable affront to public order. Many American tourists still marvel at how most Danes are so law abiding that they wait an extra minute or two at crossroads where the light has not yet turned green even though there is no traffic visible on the horizon. Many motorists park in legal zones in the center of Copenhagen and pay up to 26 kroner (more than $5) an hour for the privilege. Today, any vehicles on police or fire fighting duty in several immigrant areas are accompanied by extra protection if called on to provide emergency service.

Danes returning to Copenhagen from nearby Malmø where Muslims constitute a significant proportion of the population can tell their neighbors that the Swedish police no longer use wheel-locks on illegally parked vehicles for fear of provoking a major incident among Muslim residents. Apparently Denmark is still somewhat behind Sweden with regard to acknowledging a “parallel Muslim society.” The conclusion is however inescapable. The Muslim minority of immigrants and their children/grandchildren feel increasingly emboldened to act beyond the law. For the rest of the world, this presents a different picture than the “Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen” from Danny Kay’s lighthearted portrayal on film of the life of Hans Christian Andersen. 

For any Danish speakers who are interested  they can go to my website at and hear my hour long talk in Danish.

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