Denmark: 25% of immigrant youth want to emigrate

Despite feeling settled in Denmark, a large number of young people from minority groups are considering settling in another country

Although young people from minority groups increasingly consider themselves to be 'Danish', one in four is interested in seeking a better life abroad, according to a report published by the Tryg Foundation in co-operation with the Centre for Youth Research.

The report, titled 'Peace of mind amongst young minorities', split the group of 15-29 year-olds with a non-Danish background interested in moving to another country into two groups: those suffering from a bought of wanderlust, and those who felt they were suffering from discrimination here at home.

But while those interested in travelling or studying abroad said they intended to return to Denmark, the other group saw the wider world as a final way out of perceived racial or religious discrimination.

In all, 40 percent of the 1200 young people participating in the study said they had felt discriminated against because of their religion. Some 30 percent said they had been discriminated against because of their skin colour.

Of those who said they felt uncomfortable living Denmark, 55 percent said they were interested in moving abroad. For those who felt comfortable living here, 55 percent said they were most interested in staying.

But despite the level of perceived discrimination, the report also concluded that 'for the most part, young minorities are capable of finding a balance between the values of their ethnic group and Danish values'.

'They want to have 2.5 children, they want a home, a good education, a good job and they want their children to go to a public school, but the scepticism they meet about their religion and culture becomes a decisive factor in their opinion about whether they would like to remain here,' the report stated.

The report also found that the young people perceived Denmark as a 'land of opportunity', in which success depended one's own efforts, but also one in which discrimination served as a hindrance to success.

The report was compiled based on interviews with young people with Turkish, Pakistani, Iraqi, Somali, Palestinian or Yugoslavian roots.

Mahmud (29) of Palestinian background is afraid that being Muslim in Denmark means your citizenship can be taken away from you. He doesn't expect to be here in ten years, but he has no idea where to go. If he could choose, he would choose an Arab country, but that isn't realistic now.

Kashif (21) explains it like this: "I don't care where I end up. I don't see Denmark as the most beautiful Denmark, even if I was born in Denmark"

Those are the frustrations that bring about dreams of emigrating. Most can see themselves starting in their parent's homeland or in a Muslim country. Part dream of other western countries, but most just want to travel there for a study period.

"The dreams of emigration are seen more as a political protest than a concrete plan. But it should be taken very seriously, when the youth phrase it such for both themselves and others. They feel alienated."

"Because it creates a pool of dissatisfied youth, you can be recruited for Islamic issues. Some of these youth become ripe to commit violence," says project leader of the study, Tallat Shakoor from the Center for Youth Research at Denmark's Pedagogical University.

The study shows that young New Danes are generally more worried than their Danish peers. The anxieties are mostly about education and future employment. It starts with school grades.

Ali (18), of Turkish background, explains that they must work double hard to achieve the same grades as the Danish students, because of discrimination.

New Danes are twice as concerned about getting bad grades then Danish classmates.

Tallat Shakoor, who has a degree in religious sociology and minority studies, says that it's all closely connected, that education is the beginning and end for these families. The youth have lot of moral backing, but they mis the logistical backing at home. education is something that everybody from the homeland asks about when they call. There's prestige in it. The youth drop everything else in order to get good grades.

But despite the speculations and fear of the future the study shows that New Danes' self assurance is essentially larger than their peers. They speak out much more often on injustice and have more courage to try new things.

Tallat Shakoor says that this shows the youth have a lot of energy waiting to be used. But that the skeptical attitude to Danish society could become hostility if they continue to be seen as a security risk.

Shakoor adds that it's in everybody's interest that they don't leave Denmark, as a lot of money has been invested in these youth, and they are the one who will ensure the future of the Danish welfare society.

Sources: Copenhagen Post (English), Politiken (Danish)

See also: Netherlands: Back to Turkey

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