Immigrant advisers and social workers are seen as the enemy by fathers and brothers when they try to help young women out of forced marriages or try to prevent youth from falling into criminality. One of the more active in the field recently quit his job due to threats.
Manu Sarren was threatened that if he'll help more women, he'll be killed. Sareen is a member of the city council for Social Liberals. An immigrant consultant and politicians he has worked for the past 10 years on integration and the so-called generational problems such as forced marriages, and equality problems in the capital's immigrant families.
He says he has gotten many threats but that the one on Oct. 2nd, 2006 was different: two well-clothed men waited for him at the entrance to his office. They were perversely gentle when they told him he'll be killed if he continues helping women.
He soon reported in sick, had to have psychological help and returned a month later to his job. The case was reported to the police but fear of those men have now caused him to quit his position. He now lives with police protection. For more than a year he did not talk about the death threats because he didn't want to stigmatize an entire community.
He was one of the initiators of the Ethnic Consultant Team in Copenhagen who help youth who are threatened with forced marriages and he has publicly fought against it, and wrote against it in his book "When marriage become coercion" ("Når ægteskab bliver tvang").
He says the capital's immigrants can be divided into two groups: a well-integrated group and an isolated un-integrated group that isn't willing to accept values such as democracy and equality.
He says threats against people who work with these problems come more and more often, and therefore it is important that we recognize that they do exist and that they should be dealt with.
According to several immigrant councilors interviewed by Jyllands-Posten, they live in fear of attacks and reprisals from angry families who don't want them helping young girls out of forced marriages, ensuring them an education or stopping them from getting involved in criminality. Several live at secret addresses where they can't be found by angry relatives.
Mohammad Rafiq, who advises young immigrant women, has lived underground after he wrote the book "Love can't be arranged" ("Kærlighed kan ikke arrangeres"). He says he was attacked at the city hall and had to change address twice. He says they deal with sensitive traditions and that social workers are sometimes seen as a threat against the men in the family. He points out that the threats often come from highly-educated families, where the father works and is integrated into Danish society, but they live according to Islamic norms that say women can't choose for themselves.
"The father's group" is an association in Nørrebro in Copenhagen which work with seriously problematic immigrant families and has received a police prize. Khaled Alsubeihi, head of the group, says that many workers have quit due to threats. He says that they don't dare to work with the toughest groups. He says he was shot at, subjects to false reports, and received threats. He has a family to think of and won't work with these families and people. He understand Manu Sareen for choosing to quit his job.
Some of the young women of immigrant origin whose lives are in danger stay in the nation's women's crisis centers. Anne Mau of LOKK (a national organization of crisis centers) says that they get verbal threats by telephone, and it happens that people are extremely upset at them when they have data about women they don't want to give out. She says this phenomenon is wide-spread. There are also threats like 'I know where your children go to kindergarten' and she says many social workers live at secret addresses.
Leif Randeris, an integration consultant with officers in Århus, Aalborg, Odense and Copenhagen says that he lives at a secret address and that he isn't registered anywhere. He had gotten several threats by people who had found where he lives. He's looking over his shoulder, but he'll continue with his job. People must make a decision and he respects Manu Sareen for deciding to quit.
Leif Randeris and Mohammad Rafiq say it's catastrophic that the threats are such that people decide to quit. They say that there are only a handful of people in the country who know the families and who have contact with the women, who are the most threatened. Leif Randeris says that they only hear from politicians when there's an 'honor murder'.
The immigrant consultant and social workers accuse the police of not taking the threats against them seriously and that they don't understand threats of coercion in immigrant families. Mohammad Rafiq says that the police don't react and don't take complaints more seriously than as if it was a bar-fight. They act as if they don't understand what's going on.
Khaled Alsubeihi agrees with him and says that when he worked in the Copenhagen municipality his boss had to contact the police chief before he was taken seriously. Several central places in Nørrebro have graffiti saying "Alsubeihi is a police informant"
After Ghazala Khan (19) was killed by her brother on orders of her father, the national police set up a strategy for dealing with honor related crimes. This summer they registered more than 100 complains for 6 months, but according to Mohammad Rafiq this was the last of it.
In response Per Larsen of the Copenhagen police said that this is unacceptable, that it will be taken extremely seriously and that this issue has top priority.
Sources: Jyllands Posten 1, 2, 3 (Danish), h/t Hodja (Danish)