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Denmark's asylum debate takes centre stage

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Denmark's asylum debate takes centre stage
Welcome to Denmark. Photo: Adrian Joachim/Politiken Live
20:10 CEST+02:00
A series of theatre performances featuring actual asylum seekers aims to challenge popular opinions about refugees.
The number of people seeking asylum in Denmark doubled in 2014 and Europe as a whole is facing one of the largest influxes of refugees in history, re-igniting the debate over who should be granted asylum and who should not.
 
For some would-be refugees who make it to Denmark, the criteria for their acceptance is a straight-forward application of Danish laws and international conventions. But many cases go beyond legal criteria and come down to the the stories told by each individual asylum seeker. 
 
The theatre performance collective Paradox Intertainment is putting on a 'documentary theatre production' to shine a spotlight on this dilemma by staging four shows that will give viewers the opportunity to experience the asylum system from the inside out.
 
In 'Welcome to Denmark', four actual asylum seekers will tell their individual stories and express their reasons for seeking refuge in Denmark. The four cases will be used to put human faces on an asylum debate that has largely turned into discussions about raw numbers and quotas.
 
After the asylum seekers tell their stories, there will be a dramatic reconstruction of the difficult decisions that the Danish Refugee Appeals Board (Flygtningenævnet) has to make when evaluating the merits of each individual case. 
 
"For the refugee board, they have to look at trustworthiness and they only have a little amount of time to hear the story and consider all of the issues," Paradox Intertainment spokeswoman Henriette Kudsk told The Local. 
 
"We don't have a political motive, we just want to show how difficult it is for everybody in this field to decide who will get asylum or not," she added. 
 
The productions will begin on May 13th with the story of Asif Danishyar, a former Afghan interpreter for Norwegian forces who has applied for asylum in Denmark. Subsequent productions will revolve around a Ugandan fleeing persecution over sexual orientation, an Iranian seeking asylum on religious grounds and a Syrian who fled that country's long and brutal civil war. 
 
Dates for the four productions are May 13 and 19, June 2 and June 6. All will be held at Politikens Hus at Rådhuspladsen 37 in central Copenhagen and the productions will be a mixture of Danish and English.
 
More information on Welcome to Denmark can be found here and here (in Danish only)  
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