Frontpage Interview's guest today is Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who worked for several years with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. He is the author of Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist's Experience from the Copenhagen Municipality. The book will be out in English later this year. He can be contact at: email@example.com.
FP: Nicolai Sennels, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about your experience working with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. Let's begin by talking about how you got into your line of work.
Sennels: Thank Jamie.
Well., many people think that I took the prison job because I wanted to get a closer look at Muslim mentality, failed integration and Islam. But I did not. I was just looking for a job and having worked as a social worker taking care of teenagers for several years part time while studying at Copenhagen University to become a psychologist, it was natural for me to apply for a job involving juvenile offenders. I had no idea that seven out of ten teenagers in the average Danish youth prisons have a Muslim background. Since I was the first psychologist at the institution I was very free to develop my position as psychologist.
The main job was to find out the young peoples' pedagogical and therapeutic needs and develop therapeutic methods fitted for those needs. And this I did and this is what my book is about. The unusual thing about my work is that I found out that my Muslim clients had certain psychological characteristics that my non-Muslim – mostly Danish – clients did not have. They were all between 15 and 17 years old, most of them showed antisocial behaviour and a big part of both groups came from homes with a certain lack of emotional support. I guess nine out of ten were boys and though the main part came from less well functioning homes I also had many Muslim and Danish clients who's parents and elder siblings were well educated, had normal jobs and so on.