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New Times > March 2013 > issue # 85

Who are these asylum seekers?

Asylum seekers are often in the news. Hardly a day passes by without a story about this minority. Because of this, one might assume that the average Dane has a good feel for who the refugees are.

Unfortunately the stories in the media are often rather bad. The focus is on the negative sides of this minority – those exploiting the system one way or another, the criminal or suicide rate or the growing costs of the asylum system.

The depressing facts are well documented in newspapers and television and it is important to do it. We cover these things as well. The crime rate, for instance, is really depressingly high among asylum seekers and something needs to be done about it. Same thing with the suicide rate. Why is it happening? How do we change the high rate?

But seen from the perspective of this editorial room it is another depressing fact that the other sides of the story are rarely told. What about the stories about a refugee from the vast majority that have not been in the hands of the police? Or the story of the refugee with the potential and dream of playing football at a European level? Or the story of the refugee who started a Friday café for elderly Danish people in a nursing home?

Stories like these rarely get through the media filter, because – as it is with all other stories in the media world – a good story is a bad story.

In the case of the refugees waiting for the judgement of their call for protection in Denmark – and anywhere – there are few powerful spokespersons to balance this news stream.

And that makes it easy for the average Dane to assume that most refugees in Denmark are criminals, suicidal and – in top of that – expensive.

That is a shame; refugees are so much more than that. Most of them are like you and me. Decent people with hopes and dreams for a life in peace and with great stories to tell.

Robin Ahrenkiel El-Tanany

Editor

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