An innovative rehabilitation programme is offering Danish Muslims in Syria an escape route from the conflict zone and help getting their lives back on track without the threat of prosecution. The scheme offers an alternative approach to the latest tough measures unveiled this week in the UK, where returning Britons already faced likely arrest and the threat of prosecution on terrorism charges.

Steffen Nielsen, a crime prevention advisor and part of a multi-agency task force tackling radicalisation and discrimination in Aarhus, said authorities there have instead adopted a “soft-hands approach” and said, “We are actually embracing them when they come home. Unlike in England, where maybe you’re interned for a week while they figure out who you are, we say ‘Do you need any help?'”

While the UK’s latest package of counter-terrorism measures includes compulsory participation in a de-radicalisation programme for those deemed to hold radical beliefs, Nielsen said Aarhus’ scheme was voluntary and did not address issues of ideology. He states that “We are experiencing more political pressure to do something more like the British stuff.” However they are choosing a different approach, “[n]ot because we are nice people, but because we think that is what works.”

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