Danish People’s Party: Ban Arabic in schools

The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) wants to bar students from speaking Arabic in Denmark’s public schools.

Danish People's Party: Ban Arabic in schools
DF's Martin Henriksen: "“If you live in Denmark, you should speak Danish." Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix
The proposed ban, which has very little chance of ever becoming reality, would apply to both class time and breaks. 
“If you live in Denmark, you should speak Danish,” DF spokesman Martin Henriksen told news agency Ritzau. 
Henriksen said that the proposed ban specifically targets Arabic because a recent PhD thesis documented how Arabic speaking students in two schools used the language to insult Danish-speaking students and teachers who couldn’t understand them. 
“We’re going after Arabic because that’s where the problem lies,” Henriksen said. 
He did, however, say that languages like Turkish could be next on his party’s hypothetical blacklist. 
“From what I hear, this is unfortunately a problem among students with Muslim backgrounds. There are certain languages belonging to certain cultures and that is what we are talking about,” Henriksen said. 
The head of the Danish Union of Teachers' (Danmarks Lærerforening) said the idea was a clear violation of the freedom of speech. 
“I am of the basic opinion that there are some values that our society is built upon: freedom of speech, gender equality and democracy, and those are not up for discussion,” Anders Bondo Christens told Ritzau.
It should be noted that DF has a keen knack for proposing ideas during the slow summer season in order to get press coverage and a long history of trying to stop the use of foreign languages in Denmark.
Last June, the party was roundly mocked for proposing a tax on the use of English words in commercials. The party has also previously said that people living in Denmark should not speak their mother language while in public


Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

Denmark now aims to work with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centres outside Europe and has suspended talks with Rwanda as it no longer plans to go it alone, its migration minister said on Wednesday.

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

The Scandinavian country’s plans, first announced by the previous Social Democratic government, called for people seeking asylum in Denmark to be transferred to reception centres outside the European Union while their requests were processed.

A law adopted in June 2021 did not specify which country would host the centre, but said asylum seekers should stay there even after they were granted refugee status.

Discussions were launched with Rwanda and other countries, but they have now been suspended since the installation of a new Danish left-right government in December headed by the Social Democrats.

“We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda”, Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad told daily Altinget.

“This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process”, he added. “The new government’s programme calls for the establishment of a reception centre outside Europe “in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries”.

The change is an about-face for the Social Democrats, which had until now rejected any European collaboration, judging it slow and thorny.

“While the wider approach also makes sense to us, [Denmark’s change of heart] is precisely because there has been movement on the issue among many European countries”, Dybvad said. “There are many now pushing for a stricter asylum policy in Europe”, he said.


Inger Støjberg, leader of the Denmark Democrats said on Facebook that she was “honestly disgusted” by the government’s decision to delay plans for a reception centre in Rwanda, pointing out that Kaare Dybvad had said during the election campaign that a deal would be done with Rwanda within a year. 

“Call us old-fashioned, but we say the same thing both before and after an election. We stand firm on a strict immigration policy. The Social Democrats, Liberals and Moderates clearly do not,” she said. 

Lars Boje Mathiesen from the New Right Party accused the government of perpetrating a “deadly fraud” on the Danish people. 

“It is said in Christiansborg that it is paused. But we all know what that means,” he wrote on Facebook, accusing Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen of “empty words” in the run-up to the election. 

In the face of this reaction, Dybvad told the Ritzau newswire that although talks with Rwanda were not happening at present, the government had not given up on a deal with the African nation. He also said that he was confident that asylum reception centres outside of the EU would be a reality within five years.

EU interior ministers are meeting in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform. Those talks are expected to focus on how to speed up the process of returning undocumented migrants to their country of origin in cases where their asylum bid fails.

Denmark’s immigration policy has been influenced by the far-right for more than 20 years. Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the head of the Social Democrats, has pursued a “zero refugee” policy since coming to power in 2019.

Copenhagen has over the years implemented a slew of initiatives to discourage migrants and made Danish citizenship harder to obtain. In 2020, it became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, judging that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.