Posts Tagged ‘culture’

New group will turn Denmark into the birthplace for 21st century citizenship 

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 5th June 2010 – Constitution Day

Danish society should be freer, more cohesive, more responsible and more tolerant, says Citizen 21, an organisation of all citizens who believe in democracy, humanity wherever it is, life in all its forms, freedom and peace. The organisation, which was officially launched today, also wants to spread these values around the world, just as the philosophy of Grundtvig has spread worldwide over the past 150 years.

Denmark is rich in islands, but it is not an isolated island in the world,” says Aziz Fall, the founder and resident of Citizen21, which terms itself an organisation of all citizens who believe in democracy, humanity wherever it is, life in all its forms, freedom and peace.

Officially launched today, Constitution Day, the organisation will work to turn Danish society into a freer, more cohesive, more responsible and more tolerant society that can become the birthplace for 21st century citizenship.

Using the Danish constitution – first signed on 5 June 1849 by King Frederick VII to mark Denmark’s transition to constitutional monarchy, thus putting an end to the absolute monarchy which had been introduced in Denmark in 1660 – as the background for Citizen21, Aziz Fall says, “Denmark has something to give to the world, and the time is right. We have the resources, the spiritual ballast and we have something in our mind. From this foundation we can build bridges and conquer the 21st century.”

He adds that doing this means the Danes themselves must wake up and become conscious and active citizens who will work to promote Citizen21’s ideas

The organisation “will draw on the country’s history in democracy, liberty and sense of social responsibility to show how a society can prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.

As well as turn Denmark into the birthplace for 21st century citizenship, Citizen21 wants to strengthen Denmark’s good reputation around the world. It will promote a more responsible civic society, where individual and joint responsibility go hand in hand, as well as consolidate the principle of freedom of expression, democracy and respect for diversity.

Aziz Fall, a Senegalese who came to Denmark 10 years ago, says the members of Citizen21 are “united by the single will to see the country more open, where everybody who lives here feels part of a human adventure where respect, dignity and active citizenship are a reality; where everybody is aware of their opportunities and obligations toward themselves, each other and the world around us.”

Citizen21 and the speakers at the official launch drew on the philosophy of Nikolaj Frederik Severin (N F S) Grundtvig, a Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher and politician whose philosophy gave rise to a new form of nationalism in the last half of the 19th century.

Grundtvig and his followers are credited with being very influential in the formulation of modern Danish national consciousness. It was steeped in the national literature and supported by deep spirituality.

An inspiration for many educationalists around the world, Grundtvig is regarded as the ideological father of the folk high school movement through his ambition for a school for life. Grundtvig believed schools should provide life-long learning preparing students for active participation in society and popular life, so practical skills as well as national poetry and history should form an essential part of the instruction.

Through his, for that time, highly unorthodox way of teaching, Kristen Kold, one of Grundtvig’s followers, gave the folk high schools a broader democratic basis in comparison to the initial religious focus.

Grundtvig was also active in discussions about the development of the 1849 constitution.

The founders of Citizen21 say they have no unity of political views or religious obedience or cultural background. They say they “are a pure reflection of the society and our belief is that the core values of democracy and humanity that founded our community provide us with tools to overcome differences and build a 21st model of society.”

New organisation to be a platform for ethnic minority women

Friday, February 19th, 2010

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 19th February 2010

A new organisation, EMKR, will work for direct influence for ethnic minority women in Denmark, and it aims at being a platform promoting the political agenda of these women in Danish society. As well as “creating a new and realistic picture of ethnic minority women”, EMKR will work with other organisations that focus on the status of women in Denmark – and will also speak for men and children in ethnic minorities.

The Ethnic Minority Women’s Council (Etniske Minoritets Kvinders Råd, EMKR), set up last September, wants to speak the case of not only women from ethnic minorities living in Denmark, but also of their men and children.

EMKR will collaborate with and support other organisations related to the status of women in Denmark, but its focus will be on women from the ethnic minorities because, in the words of Trésor Kankindi, EMKR’s chair, these women “are one of the most discussed groups in Denmark – but never by themselves.”

According to Trésor Kankindi, who came from Burundi and has lived in Denmark for nine years, “EMKR wants to change that. We want to show ethnic Danes that immigrant women are just as diverse as everyone else. And we want to qualify the many perceptions that exist.”

In a press release issued in connection with a meeting presenting the board of the new organisation, EMKR’s treasurer, Annam Al-Hayali, said, “Women with a minority background are over-represented in many social areas in Denmark, including health and poverty. It’s important that we get problems like these on the political agenda without the focus being on our religion or culture.” Annam Al-Hayali, who came to Denmark from Iraq in 1996, is the co-ordinator of EMKR’s social committee.

Getting the problems discussed on a correct basis means there is a need for information, and EMKR has set up an information committee with Hakima Lasham Lakhrissi at the helm.

“Many people talk about us on the background of public feeling,” she said. “But we must have a proper factual basis if we are to make a difference and bring the problems into the light. The burka debate is just the most recent example of a distorted debate.”

Hakima Lasham Lakhrissi, who emigrated from Morocco to Denmark in 1991, added, “We have a lot to offer, and we’d like that to have a clearer role in the debate.”

EMKR also has a communications committee that will be pro-active towards the media.

“Instead of waiting for the media to present a truer and varied picture of women from ethnic minorities, we aim at writing the agenda ourselves,” said Alma Bekturganova Andersen, who trained as a journalist in Kazakhstan and now lives in Denmark.