• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Denmark: The land of no entry (for Muslims)

The Local · 5 Aug 2014, 09:23

Published: 05 Aug 2014 09:23 GMT+02:00

Inger Støjberg is some kind of spokesperson for Venstre, Denmark's centre-right party and the current favourites to head the government after the next general election.
 
I don’t know if it’s the heat, but once a year, usually around summer time, Støjberg pops up to share her reflections on the immigration debate.
 
Last week she hogged the agurketid headlines with her annual outburst: an opinion column in Berlingske in which she suggests that it would be sensible if, from now on, Denmark's immigration policy differentiated between Western and non-Western immigrants based on their religious beliefs - between “a Christian from America” or “a Muslim Pakistani”, as she put it. In Støjbergland one group would be waved through with a cheery smile, the other cattle-prodded back on the plane to whence they came.
 
 
Then, the next day, perhaps encouraged by all the media attention, Støjberg had another little vacation-time rush of blood to the head and suggested that the local authorities close all schools with too many immigrant students. Just close them. That'll teach them. (Or not). Støjberg didn't feel inclined to commit herself to exactly what percentage of immigrant students constituted 'too many’; clearly she's one of those 'big picture' thinkers who prefers to let others number-crunch the finer details of policy.
 
What to make of this? On the one hand, perhaps Støjberg’s tirades are part of a cunning strategy on the part of Venstre, either to appeal to potential Danish People’s Party (DF) voters, or to the DF leadership itself, upon whom Venstre will depend to form any kind of functioning government. Alternatively, maybe Støjberg is simply taking advantage of the fact that most of her party leadership is on holiday, giving her the chance to vent pent-up frustrations. Judging by the condemnations of her proposals which have come from the likes of high-ranking Venstre members like Uffe Ellemann-Jensen and Birthe Rønn Hornbech, I’m guessing it’s the latter.
 
But does Støjberg have a point? Should the Danes just get rid of the vertical white bar on the Dannebrog and turn it into a No Entry sign, at least for Muslims? Is that possible? While we’re at it, should we consider adding the Chinese to the list, after all they are Communists. Bombing children isn’t a particularly Danish approach to international relations, so why not put Israelis on the list of undesirables too? 
 
Irritatingly, however, freedom of worship is enshrined in the Danish constitution so Støjberg will find herself thwarted on the Muslim front by the small print. As for offering preferential treatment to arrivals who ‘share Danish values’, what about those Danes who might disagree with Støjberg’s interpretation of those values? What would become of such dissidents I wonder? Anyone care to show the Hells Angels the door? And in terms of her cunning Western/non-Western distinction - where does that leave Japanese people, or Singaporeans? 
 
A cartoon about the Støjberg affair in Politiken cleared up the matter effectively I think: it showed a group of Klu Klux Klan members - Christian, and American - being welcomed at Danish immigration.
Story continues below…
 
Of course, most reasonable people would agree that immigrants to Denmark - regardless of their religion - should respect Danish culture and traditions. But as the Social Liberals’ Zenia Stampe pointed out in her response to Støjberg in Politiken, the vast majority of Muslims do just that: like the rest of us, most simply want to get on with their lives in peace and look after their families as best they can. 
 
It is true that there exists a problem with criminality and people with non-Danish backgrounds. But is this a problem of faith, or rather something more complex, something which, at the end of the day, Støjberg might find tricky to package into an agurketid soundbite solution?
 
Michael BoothMichael Booth is the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle available now on Amazon and is a regular contributor to publications including the Guardian and Monocle.

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Denmark offers help to earthquake-hit Italy
A firefighter works in the night at a collapsed house following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy. Photo: STEFANO RELLANDINI/Scanpix

The Danish government is willing to assist Italy in the rescue and reconstruction process as the country attempts to recover from Wednesday's deadly earthquake.

21-year-old man arrested for Copenhagen car fires
At least 22 cars and three mopeds were burnt. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Scanpix

Amager resident arrested after more than 20 cars were torched over the weekend.

Denmark aims for ‘first smoke-free generation'
Photo: Kyrre Lien/Scanpix

The Danish government on Wednesday released the details of what it called a “historic" plan to combat cancer.

Denmark takes small step towards medicinal cannabis
A cannabis plant. Photo: Coleen Whitfield/Flickr

A trial programme gets the okay in southern Denmark.

Danish police chase clues in motorway ‘stone murder’ case
Police technicians look for clues on the overpass. Photo: Kim Rune/Scanpix

Local residents and businesses have offered to put up rewards for information.

Danish MPs to visit Australia's Nauru migrant camp
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said she'd use the trip as a fact-finding mission on Australia's "grotesque" system. Photo: MARIE HALD/Scanpix

One lawmaker vows to "ask some of the questions that the Australian government is preventing journalists from asking."

Danish MP: EU a bigger threat than Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Crimean officials last week in a hand-out photo from the Kremlin. Photo: Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Nikolsk/Scanpix

Danish People’s Party MP Marie Krarup is under fire for saying that the EU is “without a doubt” a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia.

Denmark to get year’s ‘last summer weather’
Time for one last trip to the beach? Photo: Thomas Rousing/Flickr

Temperatures could reach as high as 30C by week’s end in what is likely summer’s final hurrah.

Copenhagen vehicle fires continue for third night
The Copenhagen car fires have drawn comparisons to a similar spate of incidents in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

For the third night in a row, Copenhagen Police reported that vehicles in the city had been torched by unknown arsonists.

Two straight nights of car fires in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen incidents come after a spate of more than 70 car fires in Malmö, as pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

Has Sweden's spate of car fires now spread to Denmark?

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Culture
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
2,218
jobs available