COPENHAGEN. Straight Course was founded in 2017 and in June of last year Rasmus Paludan had only 125 signatures to support his candidacy.
Since then he has been on a long tour of the country. A “Gay Islam Campaign” he calls Qur’anist offenses that invites the public to “Sign Muhammad Days” – often in endangered neighborhoods or “ghettos” as they are called in Denmark.
On Wednesday in May, residents of the Nørrebro immigration district in Copenhagen are preparing for a new visit from the controversial party chairman. The atmosphere is funny and tense. Some counter-demonstrators on Blågårds Square are trying to spread party feelings with colorful balloons and cakes. Someone raises the volume of a jerky stereo.
– We want to show the residents here that diversity is a good thing, that there is another side to the one that Paludan shows. His hate project bothers me. It’s not this Denmark that I know, says Samira Nawa, folklore candidate for social liberal radicals.
With parents from Afghanistan and Muslim background she is one of the goals of Rasmus Paludan.
– There is only one way to meet him. It’s getting up and showing love. His hatred and taint are not good for him, what he stands for is the most undesirable one can imagine, she says.
A few blocks later, Rasmus Paludan enters with a bundle of leaflets with puppies in his fist and a large ensemble of police officers with emergency equipment. A white golf passes the party. The driver, a woman in the upper Middle Ages, weaves the box and barks:
– UUUUUUT. With you Paludan! You are not welcome here.
Rasmus Paludan walks through Nørrebro. In normal order, it’s basically just himself from the party. Usually only a few followers appear at his side.
The counter-demonstrators, a few hundred people, follow him with white roses in their hands, others wave red-and-white Dannebrogar into the sky.
– No racists on our streets!
There will be no riots this time. In less than twenty minutes, the residents displaced Rasmus Paludan from the neighborhood. Protesters literally remove him. “No racists on our streets!” Call the counter-demonstrators. “19659005]” No racists on our streets! “, Call the counter-demonstrators.
Film clips from Rasmus Paludan’s country tour have been shown on Youtube more than 20 million times as police increasingly provide funds for guarding his demonstrations. 41 million DKK became the last note for the first four months of the year.
– I make it obvious to provoke and create a conflict that shows that Muslims are violent. I think they are totally lost and not fit to live in Denmark, and I have no respect for them, says the party leader in an interview with Ekstrabladet.
In a few weeks, the 36-year-old lawyer who often walks around Gubbkeps
The last time he visited Nørrebro, he became dramatic. It was Sunday before Easter, and when the party chairman threw a Koran on the ground and called it “horboken,” the riots broke out.
Cars, bicycles and containers were set on fire, cobblestones flew in the air and firecrackers were thrown against the police, who reacted with tear gas.
The riots spread the following day. The police introduced stricter penalty zones in several areas in Copenhagen, and Rasmus Paludan was temporarily suspended for demonstrations.
He received attention. In the course of eleven days, he had suddenly received the twenty thousand digital signatures required to stand in parliament.
Now he is seen in the media as every party leader. He is invited to broadcast live debates on radio and television. In one program he calls the other party leaders traitors, in another he can play his favorite music – Abba, Alphaville and Kate Bush.
Rasmus Paludan grew up in a fishing village in North Zealand and has worked as a lawyer at his own law firm. The agency has repeatedly represented asylum seekers and imprisoned foreigners in the immigration court.
– As a lawyer, I fight for my clients to achieve the best possible defense.
He himself has clung to justice several times. As late as April, he was sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment on the grounds of ethnicity, following a disparaging attitude to black people on social media.
Paludan mainly attracts young people. Many see it as an entertaining Youtube phenomenon and do not take it seriously.
After several polls, Strams course can achieve about three percent of the vote in the elections. It’s enough – Denmark’s barriers to parliament are two percent.
When the party comes in, the political influence learns to be minimal. Among the parties that are in parliament today, only the Danish People’s Party claims to be open to cooperation with Rasmus Paludan. All others say no.
– It would be absolutely scandalous if I passed my hand on to someone with his views. That will not happen, says Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen to the newspaper Berlingske.
According to a study by the University of Roskilde, immigration policy soon dominated the Danish election debate on Facebook. It probably has something to do with Rasmus Paludan.
– I think many are tired of the constant immigration debate, and for a long time it seemed as if other issues such as climate, health and welfare dominated this election. But now that has changed in a few weeks, “says Garbi Schmidt, professor of cultural and language meetings.
Rasmus Paludan’s rhetoric is not really new.
– The mainstream parties emphasize that Stram’s course is something new and dangerous. And of course, Paludan is rabid and expresses himself harder than other politicians. But the rhetoric of Islam and Danish values has continued since the accession of the Danish People’s Party to the bourgeois government in 2001. Already at that time, then party leader Pia Kjærsgaard declared war on Islam, she says.
Some now believe that the Danish People’s Party has become mainstream and that it may be the cause of the emergence of new highly nationalist parties in the country. Others talk about failed integration
– At the same time, statistics show that crime among immigrants is decreasing. We are getting better and better and the labor market is making progress. Nevertheless, there are people like Rasmus Paludan who say that we are a burden on society. Our skin color has become a threat. It is nothing but pure and intense racism, says Tarek Ghanoum, human rights activist, Muslim and political debater in Copenhagen.
In reaction to the success of the right-wing populist parties, a Facebook group has recently been formed: “Muslims for the 2019 Elections”. In two weeks it has received over twenty thousand members. The founders describe Danish democracy as threatened and as the scapegoat of Muslims for all evil in the country.
The concern is not unjustified. In addition to the Stram Course, which prohibits Islam and wants to expel just over half a million immigrants, xenophobic new bourgeois want to enter the parliament when the Danes go to the polls on 5 June. Party leader Pernille Vermund wants to introduce, inter alia, a total asylum stop.
– In the last election less than half of the second generation immigrants from non-Western countries were elected to Denmark. But the tone of the debate that has taken place has, above all, brought Muslims to waken. Many feel panic. Vote or risk politicians expelling you, says Tarek Ghanoum.