December 21, 2018
Danish lawmakers have approved a government-backed proposal to make citizenship applicants shake hands with the official conducting the naturalization ceremony. The bill has been criticized for discriminating against Muslims.
The new citizenship bill has been the subject of a heated debate since last summer. It requires those applying for Danish citizenship to commit to the country’s values and to show respect for its government by shaking hands with its representative.
Critics of the bill argue that it’s aimed at discouraging Muslims from seeking Danish citizenship, calling the proposal discriminatory and describing it as an unnecessary formality.
The proposal was backed by Denmark’s three-party minority government, with the driving force behind the legislation being the Conservative Party and anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party.
The changes to the naturalization ceremony, which come into effect on January 1, have been met with strong opposition from the local officials who conduct such proceedings. Some mayors have already said they will ignore the new guidelines. The mayor of the town of Kerteminde in central Denmark has gone so far as to imply that he would rather not show up at work than coerce an applicant to shake his hand.
“Shaking hands does not show if you are integrated or not. I think I will probably find an excuse and the deputy mayor will come to work that day,” Kasper Ejsing Olesen told the Guardian earlier.
The red tape associated with the festive ceremony will cost taxpayers an additional 2,400 kroner ($370) – double the current fee of 1,200 kroner ($183). However, the proponents of the new guidelines believe it’s a fair price to pay 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,” People’s Party spokesman Christian Langball told a local broadcaster in September, as cited by the Local.
Denmark’s Integration Minister Inger Stojberg, a member of the center-right Venstre party, brushed off the criticism, insisting that a handshake is “a completely natural part of the ceremony.”
Stojberg said that a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group that openly supports the establishment of a caliphate, told her that he would not have become a Danish citizen if the rules applied retroactively.
“I asked him if he would advise his followers in Hizb ut-Tahrir to pass on it, and he said he would. And that’s exactly what we want with the naturalization ceremony,” the minister said, as cited by TV2.
The latest measure is another step in the Danish government’s wide-ranging crackdown on migration. Earlier this month, Stojberg proposed sending rejected asylum seekers to a remote island, about two miles from the mainland. Some 100 failed asylum seekers and criminal migrants are going to be brought to the islet in the Baltic Sea on a ferry under the plan.
In August, hundreds hit the streets to protest against a “burqa ban” – another “discriminatory” measure that came into effect that month.
Denmark has also been enforcing a controversial law allowing authorities to confiscate cash and valuables from refugees to fund their stay in Denmark since 2016.
This article was posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 at 8:07 am