Melchior stressed that he did not agree with his government’s tough measures against refugees, but he said that any comparison to Nazi Germany, which organised the murder of approximately six million Jews, was completely unacceptable.
“Any comparison with Nazi Germany is nonsense. It should never be done, not in this case and not in other cases,” he said.
“Nazi Germany was a unique situation in the history of mankind. You are giving them a human face if you compare them to anyone else.”
The plan has generated a wave of outrage across social media sites Twitter and Facebook and generated critical articles in newspapers across the world, with the Washington Post on Thursday reporting the story.
The proposal, part of a new bill further tightening asylum policy, is expected to be debated in parliament in January.
It proposed empowering police to search asylum seekers’ clothes and luggage to search for valuables which could be used to offset the cost of their accomodation, food and claim processing.
Melchior said that he believed that his country’s government deserved part of the blame for the international opprobrium which has been heaped on it.
“It comes in the line of a long line of restrictions which the government is making in order to give Denmark a picture of being hard towards refugees, to try and frighten them from coming to Denmark,” he said. “That policy I do not agree with. Those refufees should be treated well.”
He warned that the stain on Denmark’s reputation as a result of the planned measure could seriously damage the country’s international standing.
“Once the damage has been done, it will be very difficult to wipe it off the board, it might cost Denmark more than they earn from confiscating this jewellery.”
The populist Danish People’s Party, who have played a huge role in increasing hostility in Denmark to immigration and asylum seekers, on Friday dismissed the growing international criticism.
“You can not make foreign policy based on what foreign newspapers write,” Martin Henriksen, the Danish People’s Party’s immigration spokesman. “It is a dangerous way to go.”
“It is not important what the Washington Post thinks about Denmark. What matters is what serves the interests of Denmark. And what serves the interests of Denmark is to tighten immigration policy.”