An original translation by Liberty Dk.
Source: Berlingske Tidende – Jens Ejsing and Henrik Jensen, February 4, 2015
Front figure in Pegida Denmark, School Psychologist Nicolai Sennels, stands accused by several colleagues of expressing “professionally irresponsible statements” about Muslims. His colleagues are attempting to raise doubt before the Copenhagen Municipality as to whether Nicolai Sennels is suitable for his status as a state employee.
The controversial spokesman for the Islam-critical organization Pegida, school psychologist Nicolai Sennels, is now being greeted with professional opposition from his psychologist colleagues in Copenhagen.
11 of Sennels’ peers in Østerbro and in the City have taken the dramatic step of writing a letter to the Child and Youth Committee in Copenhagen municipality in which they express great professional mistrust of their colleague. This gives the matter as to whether a publicly employed psychologist such as Nicolai Sennels is allowed to express himself, a new twist.
In the letter his colleagues strongly oppose Nicolai Sennels’ opinions about Muslims. Furthermore, they take umbrage that he supports his opinions by being a school psychologist and they doubt whether he is able to keep his personal views on Muslims separate from his professional work with Muslims.
For example, they call his views and opinions ‘academically indefensible in a primary school that works for openness, inclusion and the acceptance of differences’. According to their letter, Nicolai Sennels’ opinions are “offensive to Muslims and for the Muslim citizens served by the state psychologists”. Nothing in the letter, however, says that these psychologists no longer want to work with Nicolai Sennels or that they even want him dismissed.
The school psychologist has in recent weeks been the subject of fierce criticism for his involvement in Pegida and for statements like “when working psychologically with Muslims, it becomes clear that one cannot ask a Muslim to put aside his anger.” He explains this statement to Berlingske, stating that it means that “threats and aggression in the Muslim culture is a much more acceptable way of managing conflict”.
Social Democrat Jonas Bjørn Jensen, who sits on the Copenhagen City Council, recommended that he be terminated from his job. Following shortly after this, however, Bjørn Jensen was brought to heel by his group foreman Lars Weiss (S) who clearly stated that it is “not the Social Democrats business bringing Sennels’ employment into political consideration”.
Similarly, the Chairman of the National Association For Social Educators/Pedagogs (LFS), Jan Hoby recommends that Nicolai Sennels get the sack.
“You can be neither a racist, Islamophobic, anti-fascist and be employed in the public sector working with children and young people and other citizens. It goes against the values of the public sector generally, and it is contrary to the values that Copenhagen has” said Jan Hoby: “It’s about how far you may go as a public servant, and I mean that Sennels has gone far, far over the line.”
Berlingske is in possession of the letter that Nicolai Sennels’ colleagues have sent to The Children and Youth Committee, and which he himself also received. He “sees the letter as a sinister attempt to introduce “berufsverbot” and that it is a gross attack on a public employees rights to ‘freedom of expression”.
“The pressure on freedom of expression exists unfortunately in many workplaces where people risk being slandered, harassed or ostracized for expressing otherwise widespread and manifestly well-founded concerns about Islam and immigration,” said Nicolai Sennels.
Freedom of expression as a private person
He says that he is “in continued dialogue regarding the letter with his union and management”.
“Neither the initiator of the letter nor the other ten signatories have approached me at any time regarding the letter, their concerns, or to confirm whether what the press wrote was in fact correct. It is formulated, signed and sent behind my back, “says Nicolai Sennels.
He denies that he is “gone far, far over the line,” such as Jan Hoby has claimed. “I have only availed myself of my freedom of speech as a private person,” says Nicolai Sennels.
Jan Hoby should not count on getting Nicolai Sennels fired solely because of his views explains professor of public law at the University of Aarhus Søren Højgaard Mørup. “It has basically no effect for him, because government employees have freedom of expression just like any other person. As long as they act within the law and as an individual, they can in principle express what they like” he says.
“But there may be situations where one’s opinions might mean that, for example, management, colleagues or citizens are not able to cooperate with the individual. In such a situation, the result may be that he may be unable to perform his duties in satisfactory way and then the employer must take the consequences. For example, the employee might be given another job function(s) and, if it is not at all possible to solve the issue in any other another way – a dismissal.
Sennels has previously left a position in Copenhagen. It happened in 2008, when he was employed by the institution Sønderbro and, in connection with a presentation at a staff seminar, spoke about Muslims in a way that was perceived as contrary to the municipality’s core values. He ended up entering into a severance agreement subsequently published the book “Among criminal Muslims – A Psychologist’s Experience from Copenhagen Municipality” by the Freedom of Press Library.
Jarlov: Politicians should not get involved
According to a member of the Children and Youth Committee in the City of Copenhagen, Rasmus Jarlov (K), politicians should not interfere in personnel matters such as Nicolai Sennels’.
But how do you feel by the fact that he is employed?
“I have no opinion about that. We are not, as politicians, in the business of debating whether somebody should be employed in the public service or not. They may have any opinions they wish” he says.
What about a convicted pedophile in a kindergarten?
“That’s something else entirely as in the employee has then put in danger the people they have something to do with”
So you can, as a matter of principle be an ardent Nazi while working for integration in Copenhagen Commune so long as you do your job?
“There is nothing that says you can’t – so long as you don’t take your opinions with you to work and that you in all other ways do your job and perform well – you can have any opinion you want”.
Similarly, if one expresses intense sympathy for IS-Syrian fighters while working on anti-radicalization of Copenhagen?
“Yes, that is how it needs to be. We cannot begin to make us into judges and say that some attitudes are not good enough for employment in Copenhagen”
Some years ago it cost an employee of the municipality his job as a training supervisor that he was a member of Hitzb ut-Tahrir
“I have not been able to find anything other than his claims that that was the reason he was fired. It that was in fact the reason then he would have had a good case in a labour court and I don’t believe such a case was ever made”
What about Torkil Lauesen from Blekingegadebanden, he was of course also employed by the City of Copenhagen?
“This is not just talking about positions, this also involves acts. Torkil Lauesen was convicted of violence and contributed to the killing of a policeman. It is about something completely different than Sennels’ case. I suppose you could say, that it would not be just any position Lauesen, due to his actions, should be able to work for in the municipality.