NPR

Facing Eviction, Residents Of Denmark's 'Ghettos' Are Suing The Government

A sweeping plan to rid the country of immigrant-heavy areas officially designated as "ghettos" is being challenged by residents, as Denmark also begins to grapple with broader questions about racism.
After it became clear that his neighborhood would be targeted as part of a sweeping plan to rid the country of immigrant-heavy areas officially designated as "ghettos," Asif Mehmood and 11 of his neighbors filed a lawsuit against the Danish government. Source: Sidsel Overgaard/NPR

Asif Mehmood moved to his neighborhood in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen back in 1994, shortly after emigrating to Denmark from Pakistan. At the time, few ethnic Danes wanted to live there.

"A lot of bad things were happening," he says. Nørrebro has a long history of riots, and the year before had marked one of the most violent, with a clash between left-wing activists and police after Denmark voted to join the European Union.

Still, Mehmood and his wife moved in and raised three daughters, surrounded by people from dozens of different countries, with Danish as their common language. "Maybe not so good Danish," he admits. "But they understand me, and I can understand them."

Earlier this summer, after it became clear that his housing project, called Mjølnerparken, would be targeted as part of a sweeping plan to rid the country of immigrant-heavy areas by 2030, Mehmood and 11 of against the Danish government, with support from

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