Copenhagen: Criticism of imam proposal to mediate in gang attacks

Copenhagen: Criticism of imam proposal to mediate in gang attacks

The Danish People's Party (DPP) is demanding that the government intervene in the case of the Netto supermarket branch which had to close due to violence and threats against the employees. Sharp criticism of the mediation efforts between Netto, imams and gang leaders.

The DPP is demanding the government act, and asks Justice Minister Lars Barfoed (K) to intervene in the case of the Netto branch in Blågårdsgade in Nørrebro (Copenhagen), which had to close last week after violence and threats against the employees.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

"This is an appeal saying that it's important that the government and the Copenhagen municipality will get their act together and do something about the troublemakers in Nørrebro," says the justice and integration spokesperson Peter Skaarup, who wants more gang members in jail, better options for deporting criminal foreigners and better police efforts in Nørrebro.

"It is important that the police recaptures the area and show that they're the ones who decide," says Peter Skaarup.

He also lashed out at imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen, who proposed to mediate between Netto and immigrant groups in Nørrebro, with the informal gang leader "Little A" in the lead.

"For me it looks like a completely crazy idea, that imams and extreme groups will decide anything. It's not their department and it should never be, either," says Peter Skaarup.

Politicians in the Copenhagen municipality were also outraged at the imam's attempt at mediation.

"It's a dangerous development and deeply problematic to have religious people solve problems, and I don't want to participate in Little A's, Abdul Wahid's or Jønke's [Hell's Angels spokesman] media circus. They don't contribute anything," says Lars Aslam Rasmussen, a representative of the Social Democrats on the council.

He stresses that the perpetrators who caused fear among Netto's employees are a hard core, which is not within educational reach.

"It's the police, who will deal with them," he says.

"I can't understand that any special imam will get involved in this. Why would a religious man and a local gangster, who plays fandango in the area, solve a conflict," Lars Berg Dueholm (Liberals) told Berlingske Tidende.

Manu Sareen, representative for the Social Liberals, called the mediation attempt a "difficult issue".

"It's always good when people sit down and want to solve problems on their own. But it's not just any citizens involved in this conflict. I'm afraid it will send a signal to other people that "it's us, who set the agenda, it's us who decide'. We've unfortunately seen it before, when the youth began to search people in Nørrebro. It's a slippery slope, which concerns me," he says.


Local in Nørrebro shake their head in response to the proposal to put the head of the Blågårds Plads gang in the position of peace broker in Nørrebro.

Resident spokesperson in Mjølnerparken, Mohammed Aslam, summarizes as such the proposal to position one of the gang conflict's most central people - Little A. - as one who would try to bring peace and tolerance to Nørrebro.

"If 'Little A' now decided to lay down all crime and get a freshs start in life, then it's good. But if that's not the case, it seems very strange, that he would act in the role of peace broker," says Mohammed Aslam.

In an interview to Politiken on Saturday, 'Lille A' said that he's given the vandals order to act properly. At the same time Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen suggests that 'Lille A.' (Abde Benarabe) will be involved in trying to bring calm to the Netto business.

Abde Benarabe has been charged in several crimes, including shooting in Christiania and an assault with a tuning fork. But he's never been convicted of anything.

According to the police, Hells Angels had plans to kill Little A. when his big brother - 'Big A.' - was convicted for violence and extortion in the Copenhagen court last year. The murder attempt was frustrated when passer-bys acted.

Instead of including Benarabe in the negotiations about Nørrebro's future well-being, the head of the Father's Group in Nørrebro, Khalid Alsubeihi, suggests to establish a parents council who would advise disadvantaged families on their criminal children.


Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen wants to go forward with his proposal for a peace meeting between gang leader Abde Benarabe (Little A.) and Netto, the imam said after massive criticism of the proposal to put one of the most central figure in the Copenhagen gang conflict in the position of a peace broker in Nørrebro.

The meeting is supposed to stop further violence and harassment against the employees of the Netto shop in Blågårdsgade, but just the debate about the meeting has been good, says the imam.

"The purpose of all of this was just to get Netto to feel safe again and reopen the shop, which will all want," says Wahid Pedersen.

"And Abde (Benarabe) clearly said that the community in the Blågårds Plads area support Netto, so in this way the debate about the meeting has been beneficial," he says.

The row started more than a week ago, when a cashier presumed to close the cash register where some local youth stood in line, due to technical problems. They cashier was beaten up (see video here), and since then their colleagues had been harassed on the street.

Q: You have no problem at all about making a notorious gang leader into a peace broker in public?

"Now he's certainly not convicted of anything, people should remember that. But my primary aim was something else, namely to get people around Blågårds Plads to show that they support Netto," says Wahid Pedersen.

Q: And so you have no problem with giving a man, who's associated with organized crime, the title of 'peace prince'?

"It might be that such a title would contribute to obligating him. But again: my aim was to involve the community here and get the parties to talk, so we could all get Netto back in the area," says Wahid Pedersen.

Netto the police and the municipality will meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

Source: Berlingske Tidende 1, 2, 3 (Danish)

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