Forcing all citizenship applicants to participate in a ceremony in which they would have to shake hands with their mayor or another elected official would add so much administrative work that the citizenship fee would increase threefold, according to the wording of the proposal.
The fee would increase from the current 1,200 kroner to 3,600 kroner.
The anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, a driving force behind the handshake requirement, said it is perfectly reasonable to demand that people pay three times as much to become a Dane.
“When you consider that you are receiving the gift of Danish citizenship, I actually don’t think it’s that expensive. I think it is a tremendously large and valuable gift,” party spokesman Christian Langballe told news agency Ritzau.
As part of the government’s new rules on citizenship, participants at citizenship ceremonies will be required to shake hands with their local official. The proposal is largely seen as targeting Muslim who refuse to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.
“A handshake is how we greet each other in Denmark. It is the way we show respect for each other in this country. Therefore it is a completely natural part of such a ceremony,” Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg said last month.
Participants at the citizenship ceremonies are also required to sign a document promising to respect Danish values.
The proposed handshake is not necessarily a done deal, as the Social Democrats, who typically go along with the government’s immigration rules, have indicated that they do not support the mandatory handshake.
Party leader Mette Frederiksen said she believes that a handshake is important and “completely natural” but expressed concerns about writing it into law.
“The ceremony is what is important to me. If it turns out that there are problems with the handshake, then we should discuss legislation at that point,” she told broadcaster DR, adding that “we make too many laws in Denmark.”
Frederiksen said her party would not take a stance on the proposal until it makes it to parliament in its final form.
A number of mayors, including some from the ruling Venstre (Liberals) party, have spoken out against the proposal and indicated that they will not force new Danes to shake hands if they don’t want to.