A small newspaper has found an obvious—if underutilized—way to press Danish society to listen to the actual voices of the refugees seeking safe haven and passage in Europe.
The left-leaning Dagbladet Information on Friday released a 48-page special issue which gives a dozen refugees newly arrived in Denmark—who are also professional journalists—complete editorial control.
"This is a chance to show the Danish people a different picture—we are giving them a new kind of story made by refugees," said Dalam Alasaad, a Syrian journalist from Palmyra now living in Denmark.
The edition addresses barriers to work for asylum seekers, misinformation about the refugee crisis, and the plight of women left behind. It also discusses conditions in detention centers and hardships faced by those fleeing war and poverty during their journeys to and through Europe.
"For politicians, refugees are just a problem to be solved as quickly as possible, and most prefer to do it without looking them in the eye," reads the editorial of the special issue of the paper, which was established by the underground Danish resistance movement to Nazi occupation. "Today it is the refugees who speak to us."
As described by one contributor, 35-year-old Afghan journalist Zeinab Uzbak—whose son was killed in retaliation for her reporting—some are forced to leave their home countries after incredible loss. "Every time I see a football or a pair of football boots, it hurts," wrote Uzbak. "He had just tied his shoes and was heading out to play when the bomb exploded."
The special issue comes as Denmark's government takes an increasingly hostile stance toward refugees, slashing services and shutting down trains and roads linked with Germany. These developments are driven by the right-wing Liberal Party, which formed a minority government in June.
Denmark's government attracted international criticism last month when it printed advertisements in four Lebanese papers warning refugees not to come to the European country by emphasizing that its laws are hostile to those fleeing war and poverty. Ordinary Danes, however, responded with their own counter-ads sending a message of welcome to refugees.