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Hafnia Times


Man Wins Lawsuit for Enduring Mistaken Anti-Terror Manhunt

Permalink - Posted on 2015-07-07 20:00

Almost one year after Alisiv Ceran was the subject of a massive manhunt based on a single train passenger’s report, Ceran was awarded 35,000 DKK ($5,000) in damages. He initially sought 75,000 ($11,000).

In an interview with DR, Ceran’s lawyer reacted to the verdict:

He was cleared of suspicion, but on the other hand, the exposure of him forced him to go public and clear his name in the media.

About the damages awarded:

We set the damages sought to 75,000 DKK, because we didn’t have any precedent. That gave the prosecution a span for meting out the damages according to they found fair.

In closing, on the public prosecutor’s ruling:

They believe the police were required to respond. They don’t think the police did anything wrong. On the other hand, my client endured this tort.

Ceran’s lawyer believes the verdict to be principle, and that this will help others enduring a similar suspicion to seek similar damages.

Introducing a New Open Collection of Danish Polls

Permalink - Posted on 2014-09-14 18:00

Today, I think my collection of Danish opinion polls are mature enough to share with the public. They can be found on this site.

The political debate in Denmark is not doing well; pundits and talking heads take up all TV, print, and radio.

The problem with this model is that many of those people aren’t basing their comments and analyses on any solid foundation centred around a proven, scientific model. They are not what people in the U.S. would call “wonks”—political-science nerds.

Another fundamental problem is that the media and punditry don’t know how an opinion poll actually works. A poll is a snapshot with a statistical uncertainty. Most “movements in the polls” are results of short-lived moods and a statistical uncertainty that can make parties vacillate in polls.

The New York Times’s wonk vertical, The Upshot, explained the consequence of the statistical uncertainty brilliantly in this article.

As such, it is a problem that the media don’t get that you need to analyze the development in Danish politics based on a trend, and not by going from one poll to the next. You’ll keep seeing polls presented in the media as a bar chart—not a trend line over time. A bar chart at that, which doesn’t display the statistical uncertainty either.

As of this writing, a panic has seized the Danish media world and British politics, because YouGov presented a poll showing more Yes votes than No votes to Scottish independence. Meanwhile, Sam Wang is estimating the probability of a Scottish No to be 95%—based on an aggregate of polls.

There are several reasons why the American development towards a scientifically-informed political discourse didn’t come from the major new organisations, but from individuals with an academic background. One reason is that the media in Denmark tend to collaborate with a single polling institute; e.g. DR with Epinion and TV 2 with Megafon. It constrains them to basing their coverage on their own polling institute; meanwhile, the rest of us are free to include all public polls and draw a trend from them, which yields a more accurate picture:

Trend line

We all deserve to participate in the political discussion, and by making polling data public, we can contribute to a salience sorely missed in the Danish coverage of politics.

So start using the polls here.

American Examples

Swedish Examples

Great Books

  • The Gamble (free, downloadable chapters here)

Copenhagen Police and Media Sound Anti-Terror Alarm over Woman’s Unease at Train Passenger

Permalink - Posted on 2014-08-29 20:00

On Thursday the 28th, people in Denmark was confounded to receive a bulletin from the Copenhagen police concerning a person exhibiting “suspicious behaviour”.

People following the development on Twitter would experience it like this:

What, exactly, sent Copenhagen into high alert?

Alisiv Ceran is a 21-year-old English and Mandarin student at the University of Copenhagen. He was on the train heading for a written exam on the subject of the War on Terror for his course on American history.

As this was the kind of test you have 24 hours to prepare for, operating on three to four hours of sleep, Ceran was still going through his book on 9-11 on the ride towards his destination. Nervous about the impending exam, he locked eyes with a fellow passenger by Nørreport train station and attempted a smile, but knocked over his luggage case which contained the printer he had to bring for the exam.

The woman he had clumsily attempted a smile at was, apparently, so distraught by the experience that she called the police to tip them off to what she perceived as “suspicious behaviour”. The police found her a “very credible” witness and kicked everything into gear.

Once more, here is the police’s version of how events transpired in their final press statement on the false alarm:

This morning, Copenhagen Police received a report of a person in a train who exhibited suspicious behaviour. After the police’s assessment of the report, it was decided to start a search for the person, as we wanted to clear up what was behind the behaviour. The police concluded that the witness was very credible and takes such reports seriously.

- We have nothing but good reason to praise [/applaud] the reporter for being alert and for doing the only right thing, which is to contact the police about their observations. It creates a feeling of safety in the society that the citizen wishes to aid the police, says vice chief superintendent Claus Hjelm Olsen, who lead today’s police operation.

- We are aware that a massive police presence can create a certain discomfort, so we found it important to inform the population about what the background was, says Claus Hjelm Olsen.

Copenhagen Police’s massive effort had the intent of uncovering whether there was a criminal situation. When the wanted person was identified and approached, it turned out that it was a case of a perfectly legal situation, and the search was called off.

- We have received great help from the population, who’ve reacted appropriately during the situation. Based on our use of Twitter, we received great tips in our Service Centre. Huge kudos [/applause] to the public and the wanted’s family for their way of handling the situation. The wanted person, too, has handled all the ruckus with an understanding of the police’s reaction, and we want to emphasize that he in no way was known by the police already, says Claus Hjelm Olsen.

Interviews—Once Everything Had Calmed Down

  • Danish Radio (DR)
  • TV 2
  • Berlingske Tidende

    Interviewer: Are you shocked that so little from your side of the train could set off so much?

    Ceran: Not really. I think a lot of people assume the worst about people like me. That people who look like me and have a beard like me are probably terrorists. There are probably many who don’t know a single person who looks like me. I can understand that the woman was a little scared[.]

  • Politiken

    Interviewer: You weren’t thinking about how your behaviour might appear suspicious in the train?

    Ceran: Not at all. But I have a beard and a dark appearance. In the media, it’s always people like me who are the extremists. I will say, though, that if I actually were a terrorist, why would I be sitting and reading a book about it, but not carrying out the attack instead?

    Interviewer: Does it make you think that you shouldn’t be sitting and reading a book on terror the next time on the train?

    Ceran: I will try to be more careful with my demeanour and talk to people around me, so they don’t fear that something is amiss. And give them a smile.

And what of the police? Ceran had to lock himself into a accessible toilet as a precaution against people who might attempt a citizen’s arrest on him—or worse. From here, he called the police himself to set the record straight. Below is an excerpt of Politiken’s interview with police commissioner Thorkild Fogde.

Interviewer: When you get a hold of [the former suspect], will you give him an apology?

Police: “No, I don’t believe we have anything to apologize for. But I am going to explain to him why we react the way we do, so he has an understanding of it. But I don’t believe the police should apologize for taking the safety of the population seriously. It is our job, and even there was no terror threat in the specific case, we are not going to get around how there is an increased threat level against Denmark in general these years”, says Thorkild Fogde.

A Double Standard for Street Harassment of Muslims and Jews Does Not Go Unnoticed

Permalink - Posted on 2014-08-29 18:00

It would be be less than a month, before the Danish People’s Party’s Pia Kjærsgaard would go from trivializing the harassment of Muslim women with headscarves while chastizing the women for provoking the reactions in one blog post to crying foul in response to reports of harassment of Jews wearing kippahs in Denmark in another.1

She writes August 11th:

Obviously, it’s different with Muslims—where the women are allowed to wear scarves, burka, and niqab.

I think it’s sad for Europe and sad for Denmark. The continent, which has exported democracy and enlightenment, is now not even capable of protecting its own citizens from assault. Yes, it is not only sad; it is, in fact, a disgrace.

It goes without saying that the Muslim immigration, which has taken place in recent decades, and which under the current administration has been increased, is a ticking time bomb under the traditionally, especially tolerant Danish society. Here, there has always been room for diversity, and the Danes have historically been accepting towards immigrants from many different countries.

Compare this to her comments from July 14th on the harassment of Muslim women:

This Friday, [Danish newspaper] Politiken reported how Muslim women who wear headscarves felt overwhelmingly subjected to persecution, rudeness, and jeers on the street. I personally have never experienced such a thing, nor have I ever heard anyone talk about it, so perhaps the extent has been slightly exaggerated. I generally know the Danes as a well-mannered people, who, even though they do not feel great sympathy for the Muslim headscarf, naturally will not resort to foul language against the wearers of the headscarf.

Those Muslim women feel provoked by the reaction their headscarves elicit. I feel provoked, too. By them and their choice of the scarf over the Danish society!2

The public and media were quick to pick up on the double standard; one tweet juxtaposing two of Kjærsgaard’s quotes in a graphic from Arbejderen (The Worker) went viral:

The tweet reads “Today we’re getting a lesson in double standards”.

Further Reading and Watching

  1. Full translation of Kjærsgaard’s remarks on the harassment of Jews here↩︎

  2. Revisit Kjærsgaard’s original remarks in the Hafnia Times’s article on the street harassment of Muslim women in Denmark. ↩︎

Sexism at Danish Juice Bar Gets a Facebook Call-out

Permalink - Posted on 2014-08-02 12:00

Lisa B. Nygaard got more than she ordered, when she took her two daughters to a Joe & the Juice bar. She took to sharing her experience as an open letter on Facebook:

I visited you in [the Fields mall] today along with my daughters. We might have been there for 30 minutes, but in the span of that half hour, we managed to listen in on a lot of exciting details pertaining to you and your colleagues’ private life.

We could hear how one of you had “done” an ugly girl in the weekend, because “the girlfriend was out travelling, which meant there was some serious [f—ing] to do”. Apparently, you won’t be as picky then, and even the ugly girls can “get a piece” of yours.

We could also follow how all girls entering were rated “totally nice”, “semi”, and “ok with the lights off” and other more and less flattering phrases.

Photos of the aforementioned ugly girl were shared, and I heard one of you show off with how you, when you’re out at night with your friends, feel awesome treating women “as crappy as possible”.


Joe & the Juice

Kaspar Basse founded the company in Denmark in 2002. It has become the biggest juice-bar chain in Denmark with affiliates in the U.K., Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. It was acquired in 2013 by Swedish private-equity group Valedo Partners.

In the bars, customers lounge with their juices and sandwiches. All bars are heavily branded with an environment of loud music and noises, and a staff of fresh-faced men exuding a upbeat, chatty, and fratty demeanour. The branded culture is evident a menu featuring juices like “Joe’s Green Kiss”, “Sex Me Up”, and “Young Blood”2.

The Abercrombie & Sandwich concept has been adopted by competing juice bars such as Big Apple.

The Reaction

Nygaard’s Facebook post sparked a fiery discussion and quickly prompted coverage all over Danish media.3

Five hours after the original post, Joe & the Juice responded in a hastily-scribbled Facebook comment. It was penned by Simon Nielsen, the company’s Academy Leader and Brand Police4. The statement reads5:

Hi Lisa

First of all, thanks for bringing this episode to our attention.

Since you wrote the post, I’ve been trying to get a hold of the employees, who worked that day, to deal with the matter. I have been in touch with the manager of the bar and the employees, and it will be dealt with immediately, as we find it completely unacceptable, and it is far away from our own values for such language to be used in a bar to talk about other people like that.

I am sorry that you and your daughters had to witness this, and I want to assure you it won’t happen again.

We hope that you will return, and arrangements will obviously be made for a better experience on the house.

Once again, many apologies on behalf of us and the boys … I’ll give them an earful, and hopefully, this will be a lesson to them. Kind regards, Simon Nielsen, Academy Leader - Joe & the Juice.

The exact consequences of the incident have yet to be specified.

  1. The rest of Nygaard’s Facebook post translated:

    It’s one thing that you ruined our meal completely with your completely ridiculous discussion of the wonderful sex, which you instead should hallow and respect, and that my girls, who still believe they’re worth as much as the boys in the kindergarten, had to listen to you rate and disrespect women in that vicious way. Another is that I assume that you all have moms, who’ve given birth to you, nursed you, and been the most important woman for the majority of your life, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have some beautiful daughters one da (when you grow up) . but try to consider what world you’ll release them into? A world full of boys like you.

    I forgive you, because after all, you aren’t any older. And because you apparently are so insecure about yourselves, your sexuality, and your own worth that it’s the only way you can communicate with each other.

    But I implore you to reconsider your conduct anyway - for your customers’ sake, for your own sake, and for your future daughters’ sake. There are so many people who think you are “awesome”, so what about making a difference and being a part of changing teenage boys’ perception of the opposite sex? Perhaps you can focus on respecting all the wonderful girls and women out there - and stop the hatred?

    Kind regards, Lisa Björt Nygaard


  2. Sandwich names taken from the website menu; the juice names are respectively covered by ™, ®, and ®. ↩︎

  3. Coverage in Ekstra Bladet, BT, TV 2↩︎

  4. Nielsen’s job titles are in the parlance of his own LinekdIn profile↩︎

  5. The informal nature of Nielsen’s comment, with errant spelling and punctuation, is not reflected in the translation. ↩︎

Ascendendant Danish People’s Party Finds No Sympathy for Harassed Danish, Muslim Women

Permalink - Posted on 2014-07-25 15:00

In a letter published in the Danish newspaper Politiken on July 11th, Aya Baram shares her experience of living in Denmark for sixteen years as a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf.

An excerpt of her experiences reads:

I have been punched on the street, after which I’ve been told to “take my f… scarf of”. The police wouldn’t even press charges, because my husband was my only witness. I have witnessed an entire bus yelling that they would vote for the Danish People’s Party and get the Muslims out of the country, because a girl with a scarf happened to hold the seat in front of her, when the bus turned, whereby she touched another girl’s hair.

I have had a guy suddenly let loose on my then-three-months-old nephew’s stroller with punches and kicks, after which another guy abused my sister with words like “terrorists” and other choice words, spat her in the face at a packed Nørreport [Train] Station, while everyone watched without helping.

The only remark we got was from a couple who told my crying sister “but they didn’t mean it personally”.

The crux of her article beyond sharing her stories from living sixteen years as a Muslim in Denmark is to encourage Muslim women to speak up for themselves, and not let others speak on their behalf.

The full translation of her letter can be read here.

After Baram’s letter, Politiken went on to do a follow-up article.

The Danish People’s Party Responds

Not one to pass on an Islam-related discussion, Pia Kjærsgaard from the—aforementioned—Danish People’s Party (DPP) chimed in with an entry on her blog1.

But before we get to her comments, some background on Kjærsgaard and her party in the context of Danish politics today.

Today’s Danish People’s Party

The nationalistic DPP is no niche party nor a group of people riding a political wave; the party is currently trailing the two largest coalition parties, polling in the low 20s, compared to the 12.3% it managed at the last election.

It has never polled higher, since it was founded in 1995 by Pia Kjærsgaard and entered parliament in 1998. Kjærsgaard was the party leader, until 2012, when she passed the torch to Kristian Thulesen Dahl. She then relegated herself to the position of the party’s spokesperson on values.

Recently, the euroskeptic party emerged victorious in the election to the European Parliament, where they doubled their MEP seats from two to four with 26.6 per cent of the vote, sweeping the nation as the biggest party in the election.

The DPP are currently in the opposition to the incumbent government, but an impending change of administration seems a done deal in light of how the opposition has lead in every single poll since the last election in September 2012, aside from one intermittent bump in the road in May–June that soon petered out.

Said bump, a scandal surrounding Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of the opposition’s biggest party, Venstre, has suddenly eroded Venstre’s dominance in polls and levelled the playing field between the party and the DPP.

The Danish People’s Party are no longer in a position of tipping the balance of power in Denmark; they now are contenders for claiming it for themselves.

Pia Kjærsgaard’s Blog Entry

Returning to Kjærsgaard’s entry in which she does not mince words on her position on the plight of Danish Muslim women.

She begins

This Friday, [Danish newspaper] Politiken reported how Muslim women who wear headscarves felt overwhelmingly subjected to persecution, rudeness, and jeers on the street. I personally have never experienced such a thing, nor have I ever heard anyone talk about it, so perhaps the extent has been slightly exaggerated. I generally know the Danes as a well-mannered people, who, even though they do not feel great sympathy for the Muslim headscarf, naturally will not resort to foul language against the wearers of the headscarf.

Those Muslim women feel provoked by the reaction their headscarves elicit. I feel provoked, too. By them and their choice of the scarf over the Danish society!

And no ground is ceded in the discussion over headscarves, as Kjærsgaard ends her entry:

Fact is that the scarf in all its variants is a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism and a declaration of war against women’s right to equal right and equal value. Thus, there is every reason to criticize the headscarf. Muslim women who choose the scarf must therefore not expect to smoke peace pipe with me. On the contrary. When you choose to distance yourself from the Danish society, you must also come to expect that the Danish society distances itself from your choice. This is how it is.

Read the entire entry translated here.

Kjærsgaard Interviewed

Politiken got a hold of Kjærsgaard for an interview. In it, they pressed her for a response to the actual subject of violence raised by Aya Baram, which Kjærsgaard had glossed over in her diatribe against the Muslim headscarf.

When interviewed, Kjærsgaard continues to express empathy for the people reacting to the women in public.

Interviewer: In a debate concerning violence against women with [head]scarves, shouldn’t you address the violence, which is the central topic?

Kjærsgaard: Just because I haven’t written in bold type that I abhor violence, it doesn’t mean that I support it. I am writing that I feel provoked by women with scarves. That others feel provoked by these women I can understand. That they have been subjected to comments, I can understand just fine.

And in closing, Kjærsgaard is unwaivering in doubling down on blaming the victims.

Interviewer: You must be a victim, when you as an innocent person are subjected to violence?

Kjærsgaard: Yes, but women with scarves could also just think through the situation; if they keep getting those reactions on the street, they could just take off the scarf. Then they would also signal that they want to be a part of the Danish society.

Read the full interview.

Further Reading

  • Kjærsgaard decries public intolerance and harassment by Muslims in her weekly party newsletter from November 24 2003.

    In the interim, we back home will work to get back [the capital district] Nørrebro.

    So that once again, tolerance and free-mindedness can come to the north of Dronning Louise’s Bridge.

  • 2014 report by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights on violence againt women.

Article Links

  1. Aya Baram’s letter to Politiken (full translation)
  2. Politiken’s follow-up article
  3. Pia Kjærsgaard’s blog entry (full translation)
  4. Interview with Pia Kjærsgaard (full translation)
  1. Pia Kjærsgaard’s blog is hosted by Danish TV network TV 2 on tv2.dk—not privately nor by her party. ↩︎

A Humble Experiment

Permalink - Posted on 2014-06-06 20:00

This is part of a small experiment of mine in how to create a digital-only, collaborative “publication” using only the technical tools of GitHub, Jekyll, Prose.io.

The gravitational point will be Denmark, but like the Washington Post and the New York Times, Hafnia Times1 will be internationally oriented with a solid geographic base.

My aspiration is to bring a, shall we say, more factual voice to the Danish political conversation with little to no “commentary” and Smart Takes. The open nature will support the transparency and sharing of open data that is sorely missed today.

For instance, the box at the start of this article will tell you that this article has been edited since publication, and that you can the entire edit history here. You can also get a glimpse of how this article was written by visiting its raw source code.

  1. “Hafnia” being Latin for Copenhagen. ↩︎