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article imageFearful Danish parents cancel school trip to Sweden

By Martin Laine     Nov 25, 2013 in Crime
A planned three-day visit by a group of eighth-graders from Odense, Denmark, to Malmo, Sweden, was abruptly canceled after a group of parents said it would be “too dangerous."
The trip was to be the culmination of a relationship that had developed through Facebook last summer between students of the Hjallese junior high school in Odense, Denmark, and the Ostra junior high school in Malmo, Sweden, according to the Copenhagen Post. The Danish students were to stay with host families and take part in the Saint Lucia celebrations at the Ostra school December 13.
The two cities are on opposite sides of the Oresund, the channel that separates Sweden and Denmark. The two countries are connected by a five-mile-long rail and auto bridge across the channel.
Last year, the Malmo police station was bombed and there was a period of five shootings in five weeks. During 2009 and 2010, there were more than 50 shootings, mostly targeting the city’s immigrant population. There have been clashes between the police and the city’s youth.
The situation was exacerbated by a widely circulated article last month in The Local that chronicled a reporter’s experience walking around wearing a Jewish kippah, or skull cap. While he heard only a single instance of a racial slur, he felt the menacing stares of people along the way.
Keld Gantzhorn, vice principal at the Hjallese school said they tried to ease the fears of the parents, but to no avail.
“They were very worried about sending their kids there,” Ganyzhorn said. “We held a meeting with the parents, but they were still concerned. It was a large majority of the parents, and the school administration cannot support a trip if the parents do not feel safe.”
The reaction at the Ostra school was one of anger, and then disappointment.
“At first I was angry, and then more sad,” said Karolina Linse of the Ostra school. A student blog created to chronicle the relationship of the two schools blamed the prejudice of the Danish parents against Malmo for the abrupt cancellation. Ostra school officials have said they would try to establish a similar relationship with another Danish school.
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