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QUOTES: INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM OF DANISH XENOPHOBIA, 1997-2002

Günther Grass:
»The Danes have far fewer immigrants and refugees than Germany, but even so, the Danes react hysterically and vote for an extreme right-wing, racist party. (...) Denmark, which was formerly known for its tolerance, now has racists taking part in a government which pursues a policy that is hostile to foreigners.« (August 30, 2002, the Danish newspaper 'Information').

The Guardian:
»Denmark may long have been perceived as the small, friendly country which gave the world Lego, Hans Christian Andersen and the beauty of Copenhagen. And it still gives more of its wealth in aid to the developing world than any other country and has welfare benefits that are among the most generous in the industrialised world. But on Monday Denmark will acquire a less friendly image when it introduces the toughest immigration laws in Europe. On the same day as it takes over the EU's prestigious rotating presidency and begins to broker a common EU asylum policy, the new laws will turn Denmark, overnight, into one of the world's most hostile places for asylum seekers(June 29, 2002).

Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
»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.« (June 19, 2002).

The Guardian:
»Denmark's government is now taking steps which will turn one of the world's most liberal countries into a bastion of introverted nationalism. There is no 'final solution' looming in Copenhagen, but there is the creation of new solutions, using legalised discrimination. (...) So for all of those who shake their heads over the silence of our forebears, here's a chance to show we are not like them. In the heartland of liberal Europe, there is now a minority community, defined by their age and lack of Danish citizenship, who have just lost a key component of their human rights. What have we got to say about that?« (Comment by Stephen Smith, co-founder of the UK-based Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre, June 5, 2002).

Financial Times:
»While most Danes would be loath to admit it, there are some uncomfortable parallels between the new measures [den danske udlændingelov] and some of Mr. Le Pen’s stated policies.« (May 3, 2002).

The New York Times:
»The news from Europe sounds grim. (…) The ultranationalist, xenophobic right is manifestly on the rise.« (April 28, 2002).

Washington Post:
»A wave of anti-Muslim sentiment has bolstered far-right parties in some European countries since Sept. 11 and left the continent's large communities of foreigners wondering how long their welcome will last. The changing mood has found its fullest political expression here in Denmark, where an anti-immigrant party won 12 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in November, nearly doubling its showing from the previous election. Its campaign posters featured a picture of a young blond girl and the slogan: "When she retires, Denmark will have a Muslim majority.« (March 29, 2002).

Radio Netherlands:
»What happened to Denmark? It currently has the lowest jobless rate in 25 years and is one of the richest countries of Europe. And on top of that immigrants make up for only 4.9 percent of the population. Many European countries harbour much more immigrants than Denmark. So how did the extreme right Peoples Party of Pia Kjaersgaard manage to set the tone of the election campaign by focussing on immigration and xenophobic sentiments?« (November 21, 2001).

BBC Online News:
»Denmark has been plagued in recent years by the right-wing's attempt to curry the favour of the electorate by drumming up an anti-immigration, anti-asylum seeker sentiment, particularly against Muslims.« (August 22, 2001).

Anti-Defamation League:
»Denmark, a liberal country with a long tradition of democratic and socially progressive governments, now has an ultra-nationalist party led by Pia Kjaersgaard, with a xenophobic, anti-European rhetoric similar to that of Joerg Haider in Austria or Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. This Danish development tends to be overlooked in the world’s media, as much happening in Scandinavia has trouble breaking into the headlines in the papers of larger countries.« (October 2000: http://www.adl.org/international/lfe/lfe_10_00.html).

L.A. Times:
»Nowhere else in Europe has the anti-immigration rhetoric ascended to such heights. A small organization preaching multicultural tolerance mocked Danes' prejudices this year by erecting billboards that showed a black youth saying, 'When I become white, I'll be a schoolteacher.' Activists in the Danish People's Party responded with a parody showing a homeless white man saying, 'When I become a Muslim, I'll have a house,' echoing the party's refrain that immigrants are edging out Danes for housing and social services.« (April 28, 2000).

International Herald Tribune:


»The politician spoke dramatically about local families who feel outnumbered by immigrants in their own neighborhoods, who see themselves as strangers in their own land, and victims of ghettos they didn't create. Perhaps because his countrymen were afraid of not being tolerant enough, the problems had been allowed to drift, the politician said. There were good foreigners who contributed to society, of course, but others, he went on, who didn't 'care a whit for our fundamental values.' So the time had come to 'impose' a number of 'requirements' on the immigrants 'to ensure a coherent fabric of society'. To call the tone of the speech populist – Europe's new tag word for political argumentation that runs to the edges of demagoguery or racism but does not cross the borders of still-polite convention – requires little daring. Its particularity was that it came last month from a totally traditional representative of European social democracy, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark. More than anything else, the remarks, and the restrictions proposed this month for Denmark's immigrant community, seem to illustrate how much once-standard notions of political acceptability can be displaced in the debate about immigration and racism in Europe. Denmark is no Austria, but its image of apple-cheeked decency is living now with mainstream vocabulary and regulations that some Danes find distressingly close to the ideas of the Freedom Party of Joerg Haider.« (February 24, 2000).

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
»Haider's theories are government policy in Denmark. (…) The emergence of an uncontrolled development in a thoroughly regulated welfare society leaves behind a trace of uncertainty, extreme points of view and a malevolent atmosphere. According to an investigation by the OECD, Denmark has the worst record of any country in Europe with regard to the integration of foreigners into the labour market. (…) The reaction to Haider is a shot in the arm for this tired-out social state, whereby, EU governments confirm all of the prejudices that the Danish guard dogs led by Pia Kjærsgaard employ when they complain about Europe intervening in such a manner in the sovereignty of individual countries. Furthermore, with the appearance of Haider we have a politician who preaches in Vienna what has long been practised in Copenhagen under the auspices of the Social Democrats. From now on, Danes no longer have to fear their country being inundated by foreigners, or feel themselves 'strangers in their own country'. They can take it easy: Denmark as a multiethnic society is completely out of the question. These are not the words of Pia Kjærsgaard or other right-wing extremists, they are the words of Prime Minister Paul Nyrup Rasmussen in his New Year's speech.« (February 15, 2000).

Liberation:
»This brutal xenophobia is all the much more striking because it appears in a place where you would not expect it. In a kingdom which stands as a severe judge of human rights … and where scarcely 4,4 percent of the population are foreigners.« (Translated from the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, November 20, 1997).

International Herald Tribune:
Denmark »experiences
a wave of aversion to refugees and immigrants.« The Herald Tribune finds it difficult to reconcile this picture of Denmark with the widespread picture of »a little place so beautiful, so well-mannered and mild that it appears like God’s own little red house with a white fence in front.« But of late something has happened with little Denmark of the picture postcards, Herald Tribune observes, for »when as little as 4,5 percent of the population are foreigners, you cannot say that hordes of strangers have been creeping in over their borders … something must apparently have happened to the tolerance of the Danes.« (Translated from the Danish newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, November 18, 1997)

Frankfurter Rundschau:
»Nothing more than a weekend with 30 persons detained for crossing the border illegally was needed to create panic in Denmark. The right wing started screaming about using the military or demanded the purchase of parachutes for throwing deported refugees over their home countries (…) Even the government leaded by the Social Democrats swallow the refugee hysteria(Translated from Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, November 1, 1997).