Core Course Week is an integral part of DIS and it’s finally here! Let me take you along for the ride:
Monday, September 9th:
Today, I had a full day with our Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism course, as this week, we don’t have any of our electives (just the core course!). We started the day with guest lecturer Muhammad Hee. Muhammad used to be part of a non-violent Islamist group and now works with at-risk youth to prevent radicalization of the Islam religion. He walked us through the proactive approach that Denmark has in regards to terrorism, which was so interesting to me, as in the States, a lot of our system is reactive. Denmark does not believe in the idea that “once a terrorist, always a terrorist” and instead, the system puts terrorists immediately into rehabilitation so the people can eventually reenter Danish society without any problems.
Muhammad and others like him focus on four main points with the youth to ensure that the situation of the person does not escalate into violence:
- Home Visits: it is important to create trust and dialogue between both the parents and the child so the child has a strong support structure and does not resort to extremes.
- Initiatives: one focus is to create bridges from the child to positive organizations and authority figures while also mentoring support and parental coaching.
- Brief on a one-on-one relationship: Be clear in your expectations and be someone who will ask questions and listen!
- Prevention on all levels: incorporate this person into the civil society through associations, employment, and incorporation into the community around them.
After lunch (a DIS treat!), we headed to Hamad Bin Khalifa Civilisation Center, which also had a mosque. We got to speak with an ethnically-Danish Muslim convert who showed us around and let us ask questions about both the civilization center and her personal experience with Islam. We also got to learn how to perform the prayer that is done five times a day in Islam! Here is a picture inside of the mosque:
Tuesday, September 10th:
Today, we walked into the classroom and received the following *fake* briefing:
Brief 00969#PRIORITY RED. ACCESS LEVEL TLO-CG 2- TASK FORCE CRISIS-HQ.
Copenhagen, Local time (GMT+1): 11.10
Initial reports indicate an explosion at the Nørreport Station in the center of Copenhagen at 10.58 this morning. First reports indicate, that the explosion took place on the metro platform below ground as a standard driverless train bound for Copenhagen Airport was entering the station. Casualties are unknown, but can be expected to be substantial. Ambulances and local police have been dispatched to the scene, but details are unknown. The station has been undergoing repairs for some time, though the possibility, that this is a terrorist attack cannot be excluded. Hotlines to Copenhagen authorities are being set up, as ordinary communication-lines are expected to be overloaded. The Danish PM as well as the top-political leadership are in China on an official State visit with leading representatives from a number of key Danish companies. Staff is setting up satellite com-links for encrypted talks with the PM.
Until further notice you and the crisisteam have a full mandate on decisions.
…Intense, right? We thought so, too. This was the beginning of our first manual simulation in counter-terrorism.
We were divided into 4 groups: Leadership, Media, Transport, and Military.
As a member of the transport group, we had the power to shut down the airport, specific train, bus and metro stations, and do anything else that would involve some kind of transportation service. It sounds pretty simple, but when we shut down Nørreport Station, we were left with 3,000 people stranded in the area where the explosion happened. All of the choices we made had consequences!
After 50 of the most intense minutes of my life, filled with press releases from the media team, visits from the leadership group, another explosion to deal with, casualties to handle and new information every two minutes, we had completed the simulation. By the end, all flights had been grounded, and incoming flights had been redirected, multiple stations had been shut down, the city center was without function, all of our police were on the job, and international media had spread misinformation. We had figured out that it was, indeed, a terrorist attack and that we had dealt with it in a way that impressed Martin (our professor).
To give you an idea, here is a section of the board on which we wrote our actions taken:
Then, we had a lunch break and made it back to the classroom for a screening of Behind the Veil of the Mosques, which was an undercover exposé of some of the biggest mosques in Denmark. It was frustrating, eye-opening, and fascinating. Later in the week, we will meet the director of the film and grill him with questions.
Wednesday, September 11th:
Thursday, September 12th:
Today, we headed out for Aarhus, which is another city in Denmark, to continue the adventures of our core course week. On the way, we stopped and got to see the Jelling Stones, which are an integral part of Danish history, and listen to a presentation by four of our fellow classmates on what religion has looked like and currently looks like in Denmark.
When we finally made it to Aarhus (after quite a long bus ride), we went to a lecture at Aarhus Universitet about radicalization. During the time we were there, we examined case studies, presented our ideas to the class, and came up with ways to both prevent and deal with radicalization.
Afterwards, we made it to our hotel and then went to dinner at a fantastic pizza place and had the rest of the night to do as we pleased!
Friday, September 13th:
Today, we started at Aarhus Universitet, where my group gave a presentation on the Gestapo and the Danish Resistance during World War II. After the presentation, we completed a “dilemma game”, in which our groups were each given secret cases that explained a dilemma in which we had to make a tough decision. The cases were all set during World War II and no choice was an easy one. At the end, when we revealed our cases, we realized that our choices affected the other groups as they were all linked.
Next, we went on a tour of the Skanderborg Bunker Museum, which was basically two bunkers from World War II with a historical museum inside; one for Germany and one for Denmark.
After lunch, we headed back to Aarhus Universitet and met the director of the documentary we watched earlier in the week, Behind the Veil of the Mosques. Lucky for us, we had the opportunity to discuss the film with him and ask any questions that we wanted, which was very helpful in understanding why the film was the way that it was.
After a long day, we made our way to Bowl’n’Fun Aarhus and went bowling with the class! As it turns out, I am terrible at bowling, but it was fun to spend time with everyone in a non-academic setting.
Once we had dinner and made it back to the hotel, the rest of the night was ours!
Saturday, September 14th:
Today was both our last day in Aarhus and the last day of Core Course Week altogether.
We started the day with a visit to Grimhøj Mosque, which was one of the mosques that was shown in the undercover documentary. We sat with three men from the mosque and asked them questions about the Islamic Faith, the mosque itself, and what it means to be a Muslim in Denmark. Having the opportunity to have open dialogue with these people was such an important thing for us, as the questions that we had were not simply ones that could be looked up.
After some snacks and drinks on behalf of the Mosque, We went to Bazar Vest, which was a market that had food stands for us to choose from for lunch.
Our last stop before heading home was at ARoS Art Museum, which is a world-renowned museum in Aarhus. After a guided tour that showed the religious undertones in many pieces of art, we had a little while to wander the museum on our own!
One of the most interesting parts of the museum is the rainbow panoramic walk that they have on the tenth floor. There’s no point in me trying to explain it, so here are some pictures:
That’s it for our Core Course Week! We’re all content with and exhausted from our week together in Copenhagen and Aarhus and are heading home as a much closer group than before!