Danish mayor ‘must shake own hand’ after being granted citizenship

Danish mayor 'must shake own hand' after being granted citizenship
Samsø mayor Marcel Meijer. Photo: Bjarke Maccarthy/Ritzau Scanpix
After almost 30 years as a resident of Denmark, Marcel Meijer, who is lord mayor of the island of Samsø, is set to become a citizen of the country – but could face a bizarre gesture at his nationalization ceremony.

Originally a Dutch national, Meijer has recently received confirmation from the Ministry of Information and Immigration that he is on the list of new citizens to be confirmed by parliament, TV2 Østjylland reports.

Because Danish citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalization, applications must be voted through by parliament.

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One unforeseen complication with Meijer’s citizenship, however, is his compliance with a 2018 law requiring new citizens to shake hands with local mayors at their citizenship ceremonies.

It is unclear how Meijer will do this, given that he himself is the local mayor.

“We’ve laughed and speculated a lot about this, and don’t actually know what we’ll do. I don’t think the municipality has received any guidelines on what to do in such a situation,” he told Ritzau.

The Samsø mayor said he will contact the immigration ministry for advice over the issue, although he doesn’t expect to literally have to shake hands with himself.

“I think there will maybe be a representative from the municipality or from another authority. I don’t know yet, but I’m sure we’ll find a solution,” he said.

“But the initial thought of shaking my own hand is just funny,” he added.

Despite the humorous circumstances, citizenship is a serious issue, Meijer was also keen to point out.

The handshake requirement has split opinions in Denmark, including amongst mayors.

READ ALSO: Danish mayors call for scrapping of citizenship handshake law

“For me, integration is very much about integration on the jobs market and participation in parents’ meetings, associations and other things you wish to be involved in,” he said.

“Shaking hands or the citizenship test seem to me a little more symbolic. I’m not becoming a Danish citizen because I can shake hands or know about Danish history, but because I feel at home here,” he continued.

Meijer, who has been Samsø’s mayor since 2014, decided to apply for Denmark citizenship after many years in the country and starting a family here, TV2 writes.

His citizenship ceremony must take place within two years.


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