Denmark fails to integrate refugees into Danish society
by Begüm Tunakan
ISTANBULMar 11, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Begüm Tunakan
Mar 11, 2015 12:00 am
Along with restrictive anti-immigration policies, refugees in Denmark are vulnerable as only one in four refugees is employed, alienating many from Danish society
Denmark, a European country hit by anti-immigration sentiments, has failed to integrate refugees into Danish society, a recent study from the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) revealed. The report found that three out of four refugees who came to Denmark in the early 2000s are still unemployed. The unjust system of the Danish labor market promotes further social polarization in Danish society, which was on high alert after the double fatal shootings at a free speech meeting and a synagogue in Copenhagen that left two people dead on Feb. 15.
"It is catastrophic that we are so bad at integrating refugees into the Danish job market. This is not acceptable for our refugees, and as a society, we simply cannot afford to let this group be taken care of by public benefits," the head of the DA, Jørn Neergaard Larsen said in an interview with the Danish Berlingske national daily.
Another study conducted by the Danish immigration service revealed the great extent of social exclusion of immigrants in Denmark. "Immigrants are four times more likely than Danish nationals to be unemployed," the study said, reflecting an alarming rise of xenophobia and hatred directed at immigrants and refugees by Danish people.
As refugees and immigrant communities form the most alienated layers of Danish society, the Danish government's harsh policies on immigration and labor market opportunities have left many youths with immigrant backgrounds vulnerable. Danish government policies and labor market conditions have abandoned many Danish immigrants to becoming the most alienated and demoralized individuals in Danish society.
The low integration rate of the Muslim immigrant population in Danish society is why a significant number of young people are being radicalized and joining the Islamic State and al-Sham (ISIS) and other like organizations. As the country has long suffered from a growing number of home-grown militants who pose a serious threat to Denmark's national security, the growing radicalization of Danish youth from immigrant backgrounds is an outcome of failed integration and restrictive anti-immigration policies pursued by Danish governments. The inability of pseudo-left parties to offer any opposition to them also leads to alienation, discrimination and violence among Danish immigrant youth.
In the face of the growing number of refugees and asylum seekers in Denmark and the threat posed by the radical militant group ISIS, many Danes have growing anti-immigration sentiment, calling for more restrictive immigration policies. The country is one of the top European destinations for Syrians fleeing the Middle Eastern country's civil war. As a response to the call of the Danish people, the government has tightened border control, detention and penalization for illegal entry.
The Danish government has recently placed restrictions on Syrian asylum seekers by introducing a new amendment to the Danish Aliens Act (L 72) aimed at limiting asylum status granted to refugees. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights network condemned the bill saying that it would increase refugees' vulnerability, while calling on all parties to reject the bill. Instead of a refugee status, draft law L72 grants temporary protection for only one year to Syrian refugees fleeing violence and persecution. The new permit, which came into force this year, can be extended for another two years. However it does not allow family reunification to be granted during the first year.
The Danish move to stem the influx of Syrian refugees into the country was also slammed by the human rights organization Amnesty International for the country's failure to investigate unlawful surveillance practices on Danish nationals as part of anti-terror operations and for placing restrictions on Syrian asylum seekers. A total of 14,815 people sought asylum in 2014, according to figures released by the Danish immigration service, with the number double that of the previous year.
Considering the rightward shift in Denmark's policies, the country has become one of the most repressive countries when it comes to immigration laws, despite the leftist government that has been in power since 2011. The Social Democrats have kept the laws in place that were initially implemented by the previous right-wing coalition with the support of the far-right Danish People's Party.
Xenophobia and intolerance fuelled by successive governments have recently led to incidents of discrimination against Danish Muslims. Following the Copenhagen shootings, many Muslim women have reported violence against them, according to the Copenhagen post. In the face of growing hatred toward Muslims, the Danish Muslim community formed a protection group for Muslim women to protect them against possible violent physical or verbal attacks.
Growing far-right extremism has sparked hatred toward the Muslim community not only in Denmark, but in many European countries, mainly Germany, Belgium and France, thereby deteriorating peace and solidarity within European society. With support for anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-immigration policies in Denmark growing, more people have started to consider Islam a threat to their society.