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Thread: Danes’ Growing Hostility To Mixed-Race Couples

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    Danes’ Growing Hostility To Mixed-Race Couples

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NG1B8QA361.DTL

    Copenhagen , Denmark—The train is sleek and fast that each night carries Christina Reves away from her country and toward her husband. It races through Denmark’s scattered marshes and clicks over a bridge and across the water, stopping 35 minutes later in Sweden.

    Reves, a Dane, is married to Walid Badawi, an Egyptian. The couple—and more than 1,200 like them—will tell you that love knows no bounds until it encounters Danish immigration laws. This nation is increasingly anti- foreigner, and its strict marriage regulations are sending hundreds of culturally mixed couples into exile each year.

    “I cross what is known as ‘Love Bridge’ every night to Sweden, and we joke that we’re love’s refugees,” said Reves, who is training in Copenhagen to be a real estate agent.

    “I feel betrayed and sad. It’s not just the rightist politicians. It’s the Danish people, too. We’ve become very small-minded. We’re such a rich country, but those of us who married foreigners can’t share it with our spouses.”

    Suspicion of immigrants has helped propel the rise of the right-wing Danish People’s Party, which won 12 percent of the vote in the last federal election and is a key member of the coalition government. The party’s platform, according to its Web site, is clear: “Denmark belongs to the Danes and its citizens must be able to live in a secure community . . . developing only along the lines of Danish culture.”

    The European Council in July criticized Denmark’s legislation on immigrants as a threat to human rights. The laws are a complicated mix of financial, housing, age and national loyalty requirements that critics say deter mixed marriages.

    One of the most contentious provisions holds that both partners be at least 24 years old.

    Rightist politicians say the legislation prevents poor immigrants from overrunning the welfare system and protects Muslim girls from forced marriages, which Integration Minister Bertel Haarder has described as an “offense” to freedom. Immigrants and asylum-seekers make up about 8 percent of Denmark’s population of 5.3 million. Three percent of the population is Muslim, and the government has imposed some of Europe’s toughest restrictions on Islamic clerics.

    The human rights group Marriage Without Borders is active in Denmark and Sweden, and many couples are trying to outmaneuver Danish laws. A Dane living in Sweden for two years is eligible for Swedish citizenship. With a Swedish passport, the native Dane can return to Denmark with his or her foreign spouse under the protection of European Union regulations.

    “When you turn on the news in Denmark, all they talk about is democracy,” said Mohssine Boudal, a Moroccan married to a Dane and living in Sweden. “But look at our situation. We can’t live in Denmark. That’s not democratic at all. It’s a contradiction.”

    Anti-immigration sentiment is spreading across a historically liberal Northern Europe and Scandinavia, a region that these days worries about diluting national identities and funding the world’s most generous health and social programs. Attitudes toward foreigners have hardened since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and as records show a disproportionate number of immigrants committing crimes.

    Danes in mixed marriages say they suffer discrimination that most Westerners seldom encounter. They move away from friends and family. Because they live in Sweden, they often cannot vote in Denmark, yet many of them pay as much as 38 percent of their wages in Danish taxes.

    They are caught in an odd commuter existence, shuttling twice a day between Copenhagen and Sweden, weighing love and prejudice, and the lost entitlements between.

    Officials in Malmo, the Swedish city on the other end of the Love Bridge, estimate that 1,200 mixed-marriage couples from Denmark have migrated across the Oresund strait since 2002. Fifty to 60 more arrive in Sweden each month.

    “It’s not Walid’s rights that have been violated here. It’s mine,” said Reves, who is the daughter of a bank executive and a pharmacist and grew up in an affluent Copenhagen suburb. “Europe has been at peace for 60 years. Most Danes haven’t suffered. They’ve forgotten about compassion. They don’t understand how foreigners struggle. Danes have become so frightened someone will take something from them.”

    Reves met Badawi in 2001. He was living in Egypt and was visiting his father, who decades earlier had moved to Denmark as a guest worker. The couple married in Cairo in November 2003. Danish law required that if they wanted to live in Copenhagen, Reves would have to earn enough to support Walid, keep a balance of $8,600 in her bank account and have a permanent apartment. Mixed- marriage couples are not permitted to live with their families.

    “I lost my patience,” said Reves, who studies and works in Copenhagen while Walid, who has an economics degree, works 70 hours a week as a cook in Malmo, Sweden. “I said, ‘If they don’t want us, we’ll live somewhere else.’ I wouldn’t want to bring up children in a country like that.”

    Bolette Kornum works as an “integration consultant” in a Denmark government office that assists foreigners with language classes and immigration and refugee issues, such as family reunification. She knows how difficult that can be. Kornum said she became exasperated in 2003 when she and her new Egyptian husband tried to move from Cairo to Denmark.

    “I applied to get my husband in through family reunification and was told a decision would take eight to 10 months,” said Kornum, sitting at an outdoor restaurant as a breeze lifted off the Malmo coastline. “Then a lady informed me I wouldn’t get it anyway because I had spent so many years in Egypt that the Danes might question my allegiance to Denmark.”

    Kornum had studied and worked in Egypt for four years. She and her husband, Osama Doss, were married in 2001—the same year the Danish People’s Party gained momentum. The Danish government passed stricter marriage and asylum laws in 2002, and the couple decided to stay in Egypt. A year later, Kornum and Doss, a former car-parts dealer working on a master’s degree in electronic commerce, again tried to move to Denmark, but instead settled in Sweden.

    “We don’t know what we’ll do now,” she said. “If the right wing stays in the coalition after next year’s election, I’ll stay in Sweden.”

    Tina Aalling cried the day the Danish government informed her that she wasn’t eligible to vote in her native country. “I never thought in all my life this would happen,” said Aalling, who lives in Malmo with her Moroccan husband, Mohssine Boudal, and their 11-month-old son, Elias.

    Aalling met Boudal on vacation in Spain in 2002. The son of an electrical engineer, Boudal speaks five languages and is well acquainted with the immigrant odyssey. He studied literature in Spain and later moved to the Netherlands, where he worked for a shipping company. The couple kept a cross- border relationship; Aalling was studying in Denmark when she became pregnant. Boudal had to return to Morocco for three months before he was granted a Danish visa.

    They married in October 2003 but couldn’t meet the financial and housing requirements of Danish law. They moved to Malmo several months later.

    The other day, Aalling and Boudal sat on the couch in their apartment as Elias wandered amid his toys. They are divided about the future.

    “I’m staying in Sweden,” Boudal said.

    “I want to go back to Denmark, but I’m so bitter,” Aalling said.

    Boudal smiled. “All this,” he said, “just to be together.”

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    It's no loss to Denmark if people who want to engage in mixed marriages leave and don't come back.

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    I am glad that this is the situation in Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. It is very convenient that countries that are socialist are less likely to allow mass immigration.






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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurelin
    It's no loss to Denmark if people who want to engage in mixed marriages leave and don't come back.
    It's a loss considering they would be helping to dry an already shallow gene pool.

    There aren't that exactly that many Danes around. Only 5.3 Million.

    The entire Nordic population itself is compartively small when contrasted with the World population.

    If Nordics were the most numerous race of people on this Earth than there wouldn't be as much danger in Interracial marriage. But as of now Interracial marriage/dating is a serious peril to the continued existance of the Nordic Race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Paladin
    It's a loss considering they would be helping to dry an already shallow gene pool.
    Well, you're right that it's a loss in the sense that these are people who might otherwise be marrying fellow Danes. But of course, once they decide to engage in a mixed marriage, for them to stay in Denmark would result in their corrupting the gene pool. Their choice of marriage partner in itself suggests that they don't consider the racial preservation of the Danish people to be of any significance.

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    It is good, however, to see that the government in Denmark is realizing immigrants are a problem. Hopefully this newer policy, and others even better like it to follow, will discourage others from mixmarriages.

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    The slight problem is that the new laws also lead to difficulties for people who would let's say like to marry a Dutchman or a Canadian. I don't think people under 24 need to marry either. It's quite rare that such young people marry, except for some worker class neighbourhoods in Northern Europe.

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    "Freed from a Mental Yoke"

    "Freed from a Mental Yoke"

    Denmark Tightens Its Immigration Laws

    Eva Matter Schaffner

    Half a year after coming to power with the support of the right-wing populist Danish People's Party, Denmark's Liberal-Conservative government is sharply tightening the country's immigration laws. The responsible cabinet minister is satisfied that he has pinned the forces of the far right to a compromise.

    Whenever there is talk about the rise of the New Right in Europe, Denmark is cited as a clear example of what can happen when xenophobic parties gain political influence. In last November's election, the Social Democrats were defeated and a Liberal-Conservative minority coalition was able to assume the reins of government thanks to support from the right-wing populist Danish People's party (DPP). By court order, the head of the DPP, Pia Kjaersgaard, may not be labeled "racist," but she keeps things humming in her own party's ranks with frequent xenophobic utterances. Late this past May, referring to Sweden's relatively open policy toward foreigners, Kjaersgaard remarked that the Stockholm regime was perfectly free to let Swedish cities become Scandinavian Beiruts, replete with mass rapes, revenge killings and clan wars. November's election, she said, had freed Denmark from a mental yoke under which immigration policy could previously not even be discussed.

    Small Proportion of Foreigners

    Yet in years past Danish politicians sometimes seemed to have little else to do but argue over imposing limits on immigration. Although the share of the population made up of non-Danes is a mere 7.7 percent of Denmark's inhabitants, even the Social Democrats had introduced a number of restrictive immigration measures in years past. But the liberal Partei Venstre of Copenhagen's new prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, felt that even more restrictions were needed. After the election, the new government immediately drafted a tougher law, which gained a parliamentary majority thanks to the votes of the DPP and will go into force at the beginning of July.

    The government's new immigration policy works on two parallel tracks. On the one hand it seeks to limit the influx of foreigners, and at the same time it encourages integration of those already present, using participation in the labor market as the key. Specifically, the term "refugee" is given a narrower definition, and massive limitations are imposed on opportunities for family reunification with a foreign spouse. In addition, the new law places stiffer conditions on the issuance of a permanent residence permit, requiring seven years in the country instead of the previous three years. The legislation also reduces welfare payments to new immigrants and ties acquisition of Danish citizenship to a language test. Finally, the new law does away with a prior special provision requiring municipalities to provide refugees with housing within three months.

    Danish-Swedish Friction

    The fact that the Copenhagen government cooperated with the Danish People's Party in the area of immigration aroused keen indignation in neighboring Sweden. Over the Whitsun weekend, Danish Immigration Minister Bertel Haarder and his Swedish counterpart Mona Sahlin exchanged heated words via TV interviews, with Sahlin accusing the Danish regime of collaborating with extreme right-wing forces, while Haarder accused the Swedish minister of being ill-informed, slandering the Danes abroad and thus undermining Denmark's EU presidency during the coming half-year.

    In an interview with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Haarder defended his government's cooperation with the DPP and warned against demonizing that party. In Denmark, he says, it is simply not done to isolate political parties; instead, they must be offered the opportunity to be part of a compromise. Now that the DPP has voted for the new immigration laws, he notes, it is no longer in a position to sharply criticize it. Haarder feels that he did a skillful job in negotiations over the new legislation. While he did yield to Kjaersgaard's demands in three areas, those were the very areas which were approved even by the Social Democrats. Thus, he concludes, no one can assert that the government's draft legislation was pulled farther to the right by the DPP.

    Haarder feels that the call of Danish voters for a more restrictive immigration policy is due to the poor integration of newcomers into Danish society. Too many of them are dependent on welfare, he says bluntly, and too many are in prison. He asserts that the great majority of immigrants from countries outside the EU are unemployed. An official from his ministry confirms that, if the proportion of the employed workers were as high among immigrants as it is among Danish citizens, the country as a whole would have only 100,000 unemployed instead of 160,000. And yet, there is a labor shortage in many places, such as hospitals, kindergartens and the police, Haarder notes, and private industry is also in need of qualified workers.

    As far as Haarder is concerned, the explanation for the high unemployment among immigrants is obvious: Danish welfare payments are so high that for a couple with two children, for example, it is not worthwhile to take a job that pays less than about 4,000 euros a month gross. But for newcomers with limited productivity and little or no knowledge of the Danish language, such jobs are simply not available. Consequently, the government now proposes cutting back welfare payments to immigrants during their first seven years in the country. The hypothetical four-person family cited above, for example, would have their net monthly payment cut from the equivalent of _1,533 down to _1,103. To avoid the accusation of discrimination, the rule will also apply to Danes who were not residents of the country for seven out of the last eight years. But the measure will primarily affect foreigners.

    Who Is Covered by the Geneva Convention?

    In tightening its policy on asylum seekers, the new government has taken special care not to violate international conventions to which Denmark is a signatory. Immigration Minister Haarder repeatedly emphasizes in his remarks that Denmark is in accord with the Geneva Convention on Refugees, the European Convention on Human Rights and the anti-torture convention. In narrowing the definition of "refugee" and referring explicitly to those conventions in the text of the new law, only three categories of refugee were excluded: those who have fled wartime military service in their home country; members of a militia (who do not wish to return to villages in which they have killed many people), and thirdly, those who fall under the so-called subjective criterion, that is, persons who regard themselves as under threat of persecution [back home] even though the danger no longer exists in objective terms. But even in these cases, Haarder insists, Denmark will adhere to the principle of "non-refoulement," that is, it will send no one back to a country in which he or she would be persecuted, tortured or humiliated.

    A special "protected status" is planned for asylum seekers who do not fulfill the criteria of the Geneva Convention, but who cannot be sent back to their country of origin. Nevertheless, it is difficult for human rights organizations to estimate what the consequences of the new asylum procedures will be. According to Anna La Cour of Danish Refugee Aid, a clearer idea will be provided only when cases are brought before the Appeals Board. But it is questionable whether, for example, asylum seekers from areas torn by civil war, or those endangered because of their homosexuality, will be covered under the new "protected status." Refugee aid workers also criticize the fact that application for asylum can no longer be made at Danish embassies abroad, and strongly object to the proposed acceleration of the appeals process, which they say will result in refugees being deprived of fundamental safeties.

    Family Reunification More Difficult

    An especially important facet of the new Immigration Law is additional obstacles to family reunification. Last year about 11,000 people were granted residence permits in Denmark on that basis (compared to only about 6,000 refugees). Now the new government has eliminated the basic right of a refugee to bring a foreign spouse over. In future, all such requests will be considered individually. The new law automatically rules out the reunification of spouses under the age of 24 - a provision which is intended to put a stop to arranged marriages between youthful refugees in Denmark and young people back in their home countries. The ruling Liberals believe that such marriages constitute a large proportion of so-called family reunifications. The government argues that, at the age of 24 or more, perhaps having completed an education or vocational training, the young people concerned will be better able to withstand pressure from their families than they could have done at an earlier age.

    In addition, anyone wishing to bring a spouse to Denmark from another country must prove that the couple's ties to Denmark are stronger than to their country (or countries) of origin. If they cannot do so, the spouse residing in Denmark will have to join his or her spouse living abroad. The Social Democrats had already introduced this restriction for immigrants living in Denmark, but as of July 1 the rule will also apply to Danish citizens. Strikingly enough, the rule will apply as well to recognized refugees who get married after their flight to Denmark, even when the refugee does not have the possibility of returning to his or her native land. In addition, the spouse residing in Denmark must have an income of a certain size, must have his or her own housing and may not be subleasing or living with his/her family. And finally, a deposit of 50,000 krone may be required.

    Representatives of human rights groups, such as Ole Richter of Denmark's Helsinki Committee, are asking sarcastically whether the new law's provisions threaten to affect the marriage plans of the country's Crown Prince Frederik. According to reports in the Danish tabloid press, the crown prince has fallen in love with an Australian woman, Mary Donaldson. Should a marriage be planned between Prince Frederik and the Australian jurist, it is not entirely clear whether there will be any proof that the couple's ties to Denmark are stronger than to Tasmania, Mary Donaldson's home island.

    Of course, no one seriously expects Denmark's immigration authorities to deny a residence permit to the wife of the country's crown prince. But for all those Danes who are not the offspring of royalty, it will become more difficult to bring a foreign husband or wife to Denmark. The organization "Marriage Without Borders" is advising them to employ the following stratagem: Danes who are married to a foreign spouse should make use of the Nordic Passport Union and take up residence across the Öresund in Sweden, from where they can commute to their Danish job via the new bridge. In such a case, the foreign spouse would be issued a Swedish residence and work permit. After two years, the foreign spouse would also be eligible for a Swedish passport, at which point the couple - again, thanks to the Nordic Passport Union - could freely settle back in Denmark.

    June 26, 2002 / First published in German, June 19, 2002

    http://www.nzz.ch/english/background...6_denmark.html

  11. #9

    ... and now, Norway too?

    http://www.aftenposten.no/english/lo...icle876703.ece

    Labor Party suggests age limit for marriage

    A Labor Party committee has proposed an age limit of 21 years for reuniting families. In practice this would mean an age limit for marriages between Norwegians and foreigners, or an inability to live together in Norway, newspaper Dagsavisen reports.
    The newspaper said that one of the suggestions from the party's immigration and integration policy group was to implement an age limit akin to Denmark's recent - and controversial model. The group also suggested examining the effects of a higher limit, 24 years, which is currently in use in Denmark.

    The suggestion has sparked internal debate.

    The reasoning behind the legislation is to hinder arranged or forced marriages in minority communities but the law would apply to all.

    Denmark's policy has resulted in many Danes being forced to relocate with their foreign spouses, often to Sweden where they are called 'love refugees'.

    Two years ago the populist Progress Party made a similar proposal and the Labor Party opposed it.

    The Labor Party refused to discuss the proposal until it was ready for presentation to the party's national board.

    Labor politician Knut Storberget took part in the policy committee and would not comment on it now, though he made his reasoning clear.

    "I agree with the Swedish government and the Swedish Minister of Justice who have argued against such a proposal on the grounds that it is a violation of human rights, inappropriate and in addition seems discriminatory," Storberget said.

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    Sweden will probably change too, after the national elections in 2006.

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