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Denmark eyes potential ‘screening' of citizens

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Denmark eyes potential ‘screening' of citizens
The plan is being championed by MP Naser Khader (left), seen here with fellow Conservative Brian Mikkelsen. Photo: Claus Bech/Scanpix
13:48 CEST+02:00
Two right-wing parties want everyone applying for Danish citizenship to face questioning about their viewpoints, including in some cases from the politicians themselves.
Not content with new tougher citizenship requirements that took effect in October, the Conservatives and the Danish People's Party want would-be Danes to undergo an in-person screening process. 
 
Conservative MP Naser Khader told Politiken on Friday that he will introduce a bill that, if passed, would force the Danish government to come up with a model to screen all individuals who apply for Danish citizenship. 
 
He said the move would replace the current requirement that all would-be Danes sign a statement declaring their loyalty to upholding Denmark's societal values and abiding by its constitution. 
 
Khader said a personal interview would help stop people who “don't care for this society's fundamental values” from becoming Danes. 
 
“I want to be able to sit down and ask some of those who want to have citizenship: Why do you want citizenship? What is your opinion of our democracy, traditions of freedom, gender equality, homosexuality and so on,” Khader told Politiken. 
 
The Conservative MP has floated the idea before and was a driving force behind an October 2015 decision to deny citizenship to a man he called a “pure Islamist” and “anti-democrat”
 
 
“Citizenship is politics, not law. Therefore we can of course allow ourselves to say to these types of people: your opinions are too extreme for us to reward you for them. And we do that to take care of Denmark,” Khader wrote in a Facebook post praising the decision to deny citizenship to Belal El-Khatib.
 
Khader said his plans to formally propose a screening process are driven by the desire to deny citizenship to people who “oppose and undermine democracy”. 
 
Although he said he did not have a concrete model for the screening process just yet, he envisioned a scenario in which the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) would flag potential citizens who may harbour extremist beliefs. 
 
In some cases, Khader said those people should be brought in for questioning directly by parliament's Naturalization Committee (Indfødsretsudvalg).
 
“You get a much more reliable picture of the applicant by seeing the person live,” he told Politiken. 
 
A spokesman for the anti-immigration Danish People's Party, the largest government support party, called the idea “excellent” while a spokeswoman for the opposition Social Democrats, which have supported a number of other recent immigration restrictions, said her party would view the proposal “with an open mind”.
 
Jan Jørgensen of the ruling Venstre party told Politiken that he could understand the motivation behind the proposal but had doubts on its effectiveness. 
 
“I have a hard time seeing how the model being proposed would solve the problem [of giving citizenship to people who openly oppose the Danish society, ed.],” he told Politiken. 
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