Wearing his trademark flat cap, Lars Aslan Rasmussen was full of optimism as he began canvassing in Nørrebro, a volatile Copenhagen enclave that epitomises the two dominant issues of the Danish election, immigration and welfare. But the mood swiftly changed. Aslan Rasmussen was surrounded by a group of extreme Islamists as he distributed leaflets at the suburban train station, a labyrinth of dark passages, cracked windows, graffiti and very un-Danish litter. “They said I should leave their territory and that Muslims are not allowed to vote. They were very aggressive and told me that you don’t go to paradise when you participate in democracy.”
A Social Democrat with a Turkish father and Danish mother, Aslan Rasmussen is trying to step up from the city council, where he has a reputation as a role model for integration.
“It’s serious. I’m not the only one with this experience,” he said in a capital brimming with election posters for aspiring politicians with Muslim names. “The Islamic groups are very active, trying to stop people from voting. There are some areas where I’m afraid to go alone. The police need to be in this area to make sure that people are not afraid to vote.”
Nørrebro station is close to where Omar el-Hussein, the Valentine’s Day shooter, was killed by police in an exchange of fire less than 24 hours after the radicalised gangster launched a lone jihad against a country once called the happiest on Earth. It is surrounded by austere estates that terrorism experts regard as parallel societies, where Danish values are despised and extreme Muslims espouse sharia law.