LANGUAGE BARRIER

01.20.16 5:01 AM ET

Denmark Bounces Migrants From Nightclubs

Citing security threats caused by a wave of new immigrants, most of them Syrian refugees, Danish nightclubs want to ban anyone who doesn’t speak the language.

First, Denmark said they would confiscate valuables from refugees and migrants so they can “help pay their way.” Now they don’t want to let them go dancing unless they speak the right language.

The latest attempt to clamp down on the movement of migrants from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa comes after officials in three Danish cities said they received complaints from nightclubs and bars about male migrants and refugees harassing the female clientele. The Buddy Holly discotheque in the city of Sønderborg has a sign posted warning that any men who want to enter must speak Danish, German, or English, according to local press reports that add that the club’s bouncers want to be sure that the migrant men understand “nej” means “no.”

In the Danish city of Haderslev, city officials say they have received complaints that men from the new asylum center housing 365 migrants and refugees who are waiting for their asylum status to be decided don’t know how to behave when they see scantily clad Danish women.

“We must say that a large number of the male guests who come from the local asylum center have a very hard time respecting the opposite sex,” Glenn Hollænder, owner of the nightclub Den Flyvende, told Danish TV Syd. “In my eyes, it is harassment when one or more men continue to touch a young woman after she has said ‘stop.’”

TV Syd also interviewed a Syrian named Rafi Ibrahim, who has lived in Denmark for six years. He agreed that the cultural differences are causing a problem and that the young men are bored in the asylum centers. “But they don’t know the rules about how to behave around Danish women,” he told the television station.

The move in Denmark follows growing tensions in Europe as the influx of refugees and migrants continues despite cold weather and closing borders. On New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, around 1,000 men are thought to have sexually harassed and mugged hundreds of women in what was clearly an organized assault without any apparent provocation.

Police in Cologne report that 883 women have come forward so far, of whom more than 500 were sexually abused. Only one man—a 26-year-old Algerian—has been arrested for the sexual harassment so far, although eight others are in detention, accused of theft and trafficking in stolen goods related to the incident.

If Denmark succeeds in closing its clubs and other private businesses to migrants and refugee seekers, many worry that it could set a precedent in the rest of an already migrant-skeptic Europe. Others wonder what sort of racial profiling will be used to make the call about who gets in and who stays out.

There are concerns about safety in Italy as well, after a 35-year-old American woman was murdered Jan. 9 after hooking up with an illegal Senegalese immigrant at a Florence nightclub. Ashley Ann Olsen apparently invited the man to her home willingly, according to local police in Italy. But something definitely went wrong shortly thereafter, when the man allegedly turned so violent that Olsen suffered skull fractures and died of strangulation.

Claus Juul with Amnesty International warns that barring people based on country of origin or language barriers is discriminatory. “You can’t make a general rule that states that you can’t come in if you come from a certain country that has created problems before,” he said, according to The Local’s Danish edition.

Still, the move in Denmark underscores Europe’s clear inability to deal with integration related to the refugee crisis. More than 1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe, mostly through Greece and Italy, in 2015, and so far this year hundreds of migrants continue to arrive every day. The European Union estimates that as many as 2 million could arrive in 2016 and up to 3 million in 2017.

If Europe doesn’t soon figure out how to deal with the influx, either by clear integration strategies or by teaching new arrivals social norms and expectations, fear will surely soon replace reason, which doesn’t bode well for anyone involved.