TAARNBY, Denmark — Johnny Christensen, a stout and silver-whiskered retired financial institution worker, all the time considered himself as sympathetic to individuals fleeing conflict and welcoming to immigrants. However after greater than 36,000 principally Muslim asylum seekers poured into Denmark over the previous two years, Mr. Christensen, sixty five, stated, “I’ve turn out to be a racist.”
He believes these new migrants are draining Denmark’s cherished social-welfare system however failing to adapt to its customs. “Simply kick them out,” he stated, unleashing a mighty kick at an imaginary goal on a suburban sidewalk. “These Muslims need to maintain their very own tradition, however we’ve our personal guidelines right here and everybody should comply with them.”
Denmark, a small and orderly nation with a progressive self-picture, is constructed on a social covenant: In return for a few of the world’s highest wages and advantages, individuals are anticipated to work onerous and pay into the system. Newcomers should shortly study Danish — and adapt to norms like retaining tidy gardens and driving bicycles.
The nation had little expertise with immigrants till 1967, when the primary “visitor staff” have been invited from Turkey, Pakistan and what was then Yugoslavia. Its 5.7 million individuals stay overwhelmingly native born, although the share has dropped to 88 as we speak from ninety seven in 1980.
Bo Lidegaard, a outstanding historian, stated many Danes really feel strongly that “we’re a multiethnic society at present, and we have now to understand it — however we aren’t and will by no means develop into a multicultural society.”
The recent influx pales subsequent to the one million migrants absorbed into Germany or the 163,000 into Sweden final yr, however the tempo shocked this secure, homogeneous nation. The middle-proper authorities has backed a collection of harsh measures concentrating on migrants, hate speech has spiked, and the anti-immigrant Danish Individuals’s Get together is now the second largest in Parliament.
There’s new rigidity between Danes nonetheless opening their arms and a resurgent proper wing that seeks to ban all Muslims and shut Denmark off from Europe. Mr. Christensen, the retired banker, helps rising proposals for his nation to comply with Britain in exiting the European Union.
There’s pressure, too, over whether or not the backlash is basically a few pressure on Denmark’s beneficiant public advantages or a rising terrorist menace — or whether or not a longstanding however latent racial hostility is being unearthed.
Analysts say that the general public voiced little opposition after 5,000 Poles and three,300 People, amongst different Westerners, emigrated to Denmark in 2014, however that there was vital criticism of the almost sixteen,000 Syrian asylum seekers who arrived that yr and the subsequent. They and different migrants weren’t invited, and lots of ended up right here accidentally, intercepted on their path to Sweden.
Critics complain that these newcomers have been sluggish to study Danish — although the immigration ministry just lately reported that seventy two % handed a required language examination. Some Danes blister at what they see as ethnic enclaves: About 30 % of latest immigrants lived within the nation’s two largest cities, Aarhus and Copenhagen, the place Muslim ladies in abayas and males in prayer caps stand out among the many blond and blue-eyed crowds on slender streets.
Maybe the main — and most substantive — concern is that the migrants are an financial drain. In 2014, forty eight % of immigrants from non-Western nations ages sixteen to sixty four have been employed, in contrast with seventy four % of native Danes.
The immigration ministry has sought to keep away from what it calls “parallel societies” of migrants dwelling in “vicious circles of dangerous picture, social issues and a excessive fee of unemployment.” Tightened immigration necessities, the ministry stated in its newest annual report, weed out these “who’ve weaker capabilities for with the ability to combine into Danish society.”
Omar Mahmoud, 34, an Iraqi engineer who entered Denmark a yr in the past and lives in a refugee middle in Randers, a metropolis of 60,000, is making an attempt his greatest to slot in. He and his spouse are taking Danish courses, and their three youngsters are studying the language and making Danish buddies in class. They’re Muslim, however attend church to study Christianity, and he stated he was not against his son’s consuming pork, a staple of the Danish weight-reduction plan, although it’s forbidden in Islam.
Mr. Mahmoud stated his household had not encountered direct insults or threats, however was frightened by the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim tenor within the public discourse.
“It’s like foreigners are put in a particular clan, separate from the Danish individuals,” he lamented. Nonetheless, Mr. Mahmoud stated that “a number of the Danish individuals are angels” and that he was relieved to be removed from the violence of Iraq. “I’m in my heaven now.”
Anders Buhl-Christensen, a middle-proper metropolis councilman in Randers, stated the inflow had pressured a extra trustworthy dialog about nationwide id. “Our drawback in Denmark is that we’ve been too well mannered,” he stated. “Nobody dared speak about” immigration, he added, “as a result of they have been afraid they’d be referred to as racist.”
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