Denmark requires new citizens to shake hands at ceremony

Published 21.12.2018 21:23
Updated 22.12.2018 08:00

Denmark has gone further in its attempts to assimilate refugees by force, as the Danish parliament adopted a law requiring anyone who becomes a Danish citizen to shake hands at the naturalization ceremony. The move is widely seen as another example of a forcible integration policy for immigrants that is aimed at Muslims who for religious reasons decline to touch members of the opposite sex. In a 55-23 vote with 30 lawmakers abstaining, the law was adopted in parliament yesterday.

The measure is part of a clear message from the Danish government to foreigners: Denmark is full, and it does not want to take in more people from different religions without jeopardizing its social welfare model. To get that message across, the government has multiplied the obstacles for would-be immigrants and introduced almost 100 amendments restricting the rights of migrants. This proposal is the latest in a long series.

Lawmakers also approved funding for a plan to banish rejected asylum-seekers or those with a criminal record to a remote uninhabited island once used for contagious animals in defiance of international criticism.

Earlier last week, Denmark adopted policies for immigrants to integrate into society, by force if necessary. Denmark's so-called "ghetto neighborhood policy makes daycare mandatory for all children over the age of one in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and parents who do not comply will lose their family allowances. Denmark is the only country to formally classify certain residential zones as ghettos. An area fits into the category if more than half of its inhabitants originate from non-Western countries, and it also matches certain other criteria, such as unemployment exceeding 40 percent.

In addition, automatically doubling sentences for crimes committed in ghetto areas and setting quotas on kindergartens so that they can have no more than 30 percent of their children from immigrant backgrounds are among measures introduced by the Danish parliament, revealing the latest spasm of xenophobia.

Known for its long history of high human rights standards, Danish politics is now marked by a xenophobic and sometimes racist tendency. The island exile idea was proposed by the populist, anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP), which is not part of the government, but the idea was snapped up by the ruling center-right coalition. "If you are unwanted in Danish society, you should not be a nuisance to ordinary Danes," controversial Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg of the conservative Liberal Party, which leads the coalition, said in a Facebook post. "They are undesirable in Denmark, and they must feel it!"

Denmark has stepped up its efforts to become the least attractive country in Europe for refugees and asylum seekers. Last year, between January and November, just over 3,000 people claimed asylum in Denmark, down from 2016 when the number hit 6,000. As of Oct. 1, the ministry said about 2,600 asylum bids were registered.

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