HRS International

Tingbjerg: one neighborhood’s nightmare

One of the big news stories in Denmark in recent weeks has centered on a small Copenhagen neighborhood called Tingbjerg. Over the years it has been turning gradually into a Muslim enclave in which non-Muslims have been increasingly subjected to harassment and criminality. Among these victims has been the openly gay pastor of Tingbjerg Church, who earlier this month, after several years of being persecuted by local Muslim youths, quit his post and fled the neighborhood, thereby making headlines around the country and sparking widespread discussion and debate about a very widespread phenomenon - namely, the ongoing Islamization of urban areas across Western Europe.

By Bruce Bawer, HRS

Few people outside of Denmark have heard of Tingbjerg. It’s a residential neighborhood in northwestern Copenhagen. About 6500 people live there, down from about 10,000 in the 1970s. Today the great majority of those residents are Muslims. As the neighborhood has become increasingly Muslim, it’s also been increasingly plagued by gang violence, burglaries, car-burnings, vandalism, and other offenses. Over the years, the members of Tingbjerg’s non-Muslim minority have come to feel increasingly vulnerable and ill at ease in their community. Many have moved out.

Among the latter is Ulrich Vogel. He is German and gay – and until recently he also happened to be the pastor at Tingbjerg Church. But now, after seventeen years in that position, he’s fled – moved out of the church residence, gone underground, taken sick leave, and begun psychological treatment.

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Why? Because in recent years Vogel has been the repeated target of crime and harassment by local Muslims. Vogel refused to discuss his situation with Uwe Max Jensen, who reported on the story for sappho.dk on October 6. But Jensen found police reports in local newspapers that describe acts of vandalism at the church on March 26 and August 5 of this year and a break-in at the church residence on August 16. The latter crime involved the destruction and robbery of much of Vogel’s personal property, including his computer. And this is apparently only the tip of the iceberg: a member of the church congregation told Jensen that the residence has been broken into “countless” times.

In any case, Vogel has given up. And so, apparently, has the church council: instead of opening up a search for a substitute pastor who’s willing to live in the church residence at Tingbjerg, they’ve decided to sell it.

For days, the rumor circulated that Vogel was tormented by the young Muslims because he’s gay. Then, on October 17, Lea Holtze and Jannie Iwankow Søgaard of Kristeligt Dagblad reported that Vogel had broken his silence in order to deny that rumor. No, he insisted: he was tormented not because he’s gay but because he’s a pastor, and thus “a picture of an institution and a normality that is not welcomed by this group of young people.” Vogel also noted, truthfully enough, that he was hardly the only person in the neighborhood who had been victimized by local youth.

“It’s a whole neighborhood that’s been taken hostage,” Vogel said of Tingbjerg, complaining that “one is left to fend for oneself” there because “the police don’t do enough.” The problems, he said, can’t be dismissed as ordinary teenage hijinks: “It feels like pure malice.” The pastor recalled that last March, after local youths threw rocks at buses, resulting in a disruption of the public transport system, he spoke out in a local newspaper and on the TV news about the neighborhood’s ordeal – an action which, he suggests, may help explain why he appears to have been singled out for repeated victimization.

Yet if Vogel thinks his sexual orientation has nothing to do with the harassment he’s suffered, he’s apparently mistaken. As Anders Raahauge noted in Saturday’s Jyllands-Posten (no link), local youths themselves have acknowledged – or, more accurately, bragged – to reporters that the pastor’s sexual orientation was indeed a motivating factor for those who targeted him. This should not surprise anyone who knows what Islam says about homosexuality.

The truth about life in Tingbjerg was vividly underscored on October 14, when two journalists for Denmark’s TV2 drove to Tingbjerg Church to get some footage of it for a report on the Vogel story. While they were filming outside the church, two young Muslim men rode up to them on motorbikes. The second of the three videos posted here shows what happened next. In an aggressive, threatening voice, one of the youths ordered the TV2 team to “erase those fucking pictures now, ’cause you’ve taken pictures of us,” then added, apropos of the Vogel story: “It’s lies. I’ve read in BT. It’s not worth shit….It’s propaganda.” The boys then drove over to the TV2 team’s van and proceeded to smash its windows. (The results of their efforts can be seen on the first of the three posted videos on the same page.)

Two days later the TV2 website ran a letter from a resident of Tingbjerg who had been living in the neighborhood since August. “It took about a week,” the man wrote, “before I saw with my own eyes that there is something totally wrong, socially speaking, here in Tingbjerg.” On August 23, he saw a group of 20 kids aged between 11 and 20, some of them in masks, pulling a wagon filled with stones.

They disappeared behind some buildings, and a minute later black smoke appeared from the area. The young people appeared again, and went down to a place between the buildings I live in. While I watched, I saw them also set fire to a dumpster from the building I live in. Some of us went outside to try to put out the fire….Fire trucks and police cars drove by at least 2-3 times without stopping to help. They didn’t stop until a paddy wagon came, with officers dressed for combat. Later we found out that they hadn’t stopped the first time around because stones were being thrown at them….

Needless to say, Tingbjerg is not unique. Western Europe is full of neighborhoods that are at various stages of the process that Tingbjerg is now going through – a process that may be fairly described as a gradual shift of power whereby these areas end up being Muslim-controlled enclaves that are no-go zones for non-Muslims (even those, like Vogel, who are there to serve the community). As time goes by, more and more European neighborhoods are slipping quietly into the first stage of this process – and are eventually reaching the point at which, yes, even cops and firefighters don’t dare show up unless they’re accompanied by a sizable contingent of armed and armored backup. At present, to be sure, things are considerably worse in many other European cities (such as Bradford and Malmö) than they are in Copenhagen or any other Danish city. But as Ralf Pittelkow wrote in Jyllands Posten on October 21, “Tingbjerg may turn out to be just the beginning” for Denmark.

If there is to be any hope for Europe, the truth about the continent’s Tingbjergs must be addressed honestly. Yet it’s precisely this that the great majority of Europeans in positions of political and cultural power refuse to do. Pittelkow notes that while young Muslim predators themselves routinely admit that their actions are connected to “their ethnic and Muslim identity” and represent “a struggle for power and honor,” politicians, journalists, and academic “experts” routinely reject any such analysis. So, far too often, do people in official positions who are close enough to the situation on the ground to know better. For example, Pittelkow cites a “well-meaning” woman who holds a local post in Tingbjerg and who, he writes, has warned that discussions of the Vogel case had better be free of any mention of “ethnic and religious factors.” This woman, Pittelkow observes, “apparently hasn’t got the foggiest idea of what is going on in the real world, but just wants to show that she is a good person. But kind words won’t make real problems go away.” Alas, this woman’s numbers are legion in Western Europe, where all too many public officials at every level see it as their primary responsibility not to preserve liberal civilization, social order, and public safety but to serve as exemplars of multicultural virtue – a role that compels them to avert their eyes meekly from the systematic barbarism that is destroying the lives of more and more innocent Europeans like Ulrich Vogel.