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May 25, 2018
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Denmark: Immigrant and ex-MP visits those who post hateful commentaries and threats online

23.12.2017 18:46
Özlem Cekic (PHOTO:  Facebook profile of Özlem Cekic)
Özlem Cekic (PHOTO: Facebook profile of Özlem Cekic)

Özlem Cekic, a former MP in Denmark, has decided to undertake a genuinely unique approach to combating racism and xenophobia. As an immigrant, a Muslim, and a woman she has been targeted with many hateful commentaries, harassment and threats online.

Cekic is Kurdish and has lived in Denmark since the age of three, when she emigrated there from Turkey. After failing to win re-election she began visiting the people who had sent her such messages in person.

News server reports that the famous Danish photographer Jacob Holdt gave her the courage to decide to pay the visits. She does not just visit her ideological opponents from the ultra-right, but also Islamists, xenophobes, and people who cannot stand democracy.

"I always do my best to find a common language with them, to ascertain why it is we can't stand each other so much when we don't even know each other," she said. In advance of her first such meeting, the former MP says she was quite terror-stricken, afraid that the extremist who had bothered her with hateful e-mails and threats would cut her throat in person.

"I called him and said 'Hey, you don't know me personally and I don't know you either. You've sent me so many hateful messages, though, that I believe we should sit down, have some food, and talk this out. Can I visit you?'" she recalls.

The answer surprised her - the man said he would have to ask his wife. Their meeting ultimately was a success.

The former MP agreed with her husband that if he hadn't heard from her within an hour of the visit beginning, he would call the police. In the end, she ended up having a calm discussion of more than two hours with that particular man.

"I meet with them exclusively in their own homes so they can see that I am trustworthy. I always bring them some food. My credo is that if we can break bread together, then we will not kill each other," she says.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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