University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Students disrupt immigration minister’s appearance over “policies that kill”

Protest — A group of University of Copenhagen students demonstrated against the government’s asylum policies during an appearance by the immigration minister at the Centre for Health and Society this week. The minister dismissed the protestors as “lame”

A public event on Tuesday featuring a discussion with Inger Støjberg, the immigration minister, was interrupted by a group of activists believed to be students studying psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology.

According to a statement from the group, 25 students took part in the protest that started as soon as the event began. The protestors interrupted Støjberg each time she tried to speak by shouting examples of the impact that stricter immigration regulations have had on specific individuals.

The group also hung a banner reading “Asylstramninger ødelægger liv” (Tougher asylum destroys lives) at the entrance to the auditorium, and shouted “Din politik slår ihjel” (Your policies kill) as they departed the event after five minutes.

The group declined a request to speak with the University Post about the demonstration.

Students debate demonstration

Nine people took part in the demonstration. Many of the others in attendance appeared clearly irritated by the disruption, and some shouted at the group to simmer down or booed them.

[Recording of the demonstration (edited by the University Post)]

The event, “I øjenhøjde med Inger Støjberg” (Eye to Eye with Inger Støjberg), was organised by Politik og Kommunikation, an association for students studying politics or communication, in order to provide her with an opportunity to speak about political communication. During the protest, she sat unruffled in one of the red reading chairs set up for the event as she waited for the demonstrators to leave the auditorium,

She later took a swipe at the demonstrators, calling their protest an example of bad communication.

The demonstration has touched off a hefty debate in the political-science student Facebook group ‘Statskundskab på København’.

One student’s comment that he was disappointed by those who took part had received 150 likes at the time of writing.

Leif Donbæk, a solicitor who frequently appears in the media, wrote on Facebook that he felt the disruption was “antidemocratic bullying”.

“I fear for the coming generation of graduates if this is the limit of the analytical ability and the respect for democracy at our institutes of higher education,” he wrote.

Jon Rostgaard Boiesen, a teaching assistant at Faculty of Law at Aarhus University, replied to Donbæk’s comment that exercising the right to free speech was in keeping with the spirit of democracy.

Questions welcome

Alexander Funch, chair of the university’s chapter of Politik og Kommunikation, described the association as non-partisan, and made it clear that it was not involved with the demonstration.

Politik og Kommunikation regularly organises discussions with lawmakers from all parties. It believes its set-up helps students understand elected officials better.

“We respect people’s political points of view, but we hope that our events can be held the way we plan them. There is always time after each conversation to ask questions, and Inger Støjberg stayed around afterwards. There was plenty of opportunity to engage wither,” Funch says.

Criticism of activists

Støjberg said she respects the students’ right to demonstrate, but felt that disrupting the event was harmful to the democratic process.

“They didn’t want to hear what I had to say. They didn’t want to debate with me. They wanted to disturb the event, then walk out. But, that’s not the first time that’s happened to me.”

She described the demonstrators as a “lame excuse for far-left activists”, and was pleased that their protest failed to stop the event.

“The discussion continued after they left,” she said.

The group of students who staged the protest explained their position in a comment submitted to the University Post. A comment that has subsequently deleted as it turns out the group used a fake identity for their submission.

image: Liv Rossander
image: Anna K. Jørgensen
image: Liv Rassander
image: Anna K. Jørgensen