Denmark: Increase in hate crimes

Denmark: Increase in hate crimes

There were 306 hate crimes in 2009 - 175 of which had an extremist motive, and the rest a possible extremist motive. Racially motivated crimes made up 73 of the 175, and most (65) were committed by Danes against non-Danes. The rest were crimes committed by non-Danes against Danes, or non-Danes against each other. The 'possibly extremist' group was not broken down by category.

In 2009 police received more complaints about religious hate crimes. But hate crimes are still very much a gray area, researchers say.

On April 30, 2009 the Evangelist movement complained to the North-Zealand police about an email that they've received. The sender wrote that the people in the community would be killed, raped and subjected to other crimes.

On September 23 a man of immigrant background complained to the South-Zealand and Lolland-Falster police that he got death threats from another Muslim man, because his wife was not veiled.

And at the other end of the country, a woman of immigrant background complained to the Southern Jutland police on August 26 that her brother intended to kill her because she had a boyfriend from Iraq, and not from Afghanistan where the family came from.

These three police cases are examples of religiously motivated hate crimes in Denmark and appear in the Danish security service (PET) report "Kriminelle forhold i 2009 med mulig ekstremistisk baggrund" (criminal cases with a possible extremist background ), published yesterday. [PDF]

The study shows that the number of police cases involving hate crimes - racially, religiously, politically or sexually motivated - rose from 175 in 2008 to 306 in 2009. And that the clearly religiously motivated ones take up on increasing share.

In 2008 there were 9 police cases of religious hate-crimes, making up 5.1% of the hate crimes.

In 2009 there were 21 cases, which made up 6.9%. In both years, a large number of cases have a 'doubtful extremist motive' - 53 in 2008 and 131 in 2009. This can mean that there might be hidden religious motives among the hate crime cases.

The Institute for Human Rights publishes a study of hate crimes in Denmark every year, organized by project leader Cecilia Decara. She explains that religious and other hate crimes have been a seriously underexposed area.

"Three years ago virtually no attention was given to hate crimes in Denmark. This is unfortunately beginning to change, but the numbers are still too small to assess whether there are really more crimes, and if they've changed character," says Cecilia Decara and adds: "The police have however an increased focus on the crimes. And this might make people more confident that their complaints will be taken more seriously."

In more positive news, the number of police cases regarding racist hate crimes fell from 113 in 2008 to 73 in 2009. Political and sexual hate crimes were measured for the first time by the PET. There were 64 political hate crimes, and 17 sexual hate crimes in 2009.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)