Die Zeit on ‘Fortress Denmark’

Germany’s Die Zeit weekly has just run a series of withering pieces on Denmark’s rising xenophobia,  "In der Festung Dänemark"
(which I’m pretty sure means "In Fortress Denmark").

The Danish newspaper Politiken has a summary of the coverage in Danish (appropriately entitled "Tysk magasin hudfletter Danmark", German magazine flays Denmark). 

Haven’t found a summary in English yet.

Some interesting points:

I’ve noted before how I suspected that few Danes realized how much of a barrier their language is to successful integration into Danish society.  The author, Wolfgang Zank, makes a similiar point:

"To non-Danes, the Danish language seems designed to be as difficult as possible to be learned.  It overflows with irregular and illogical prepositions.  For example, Danes don’t spend time ‘in’ but ‘on’ the hospital."

One particulary shocking detail:  Danish citizenship laws have been revised in recent years making in effect two tiers of citizenship.  Those who are not of Danish descent and have resided in Denmark for less than 28 years (!) cannot bring a foreign spouse into the country.  Brown people are, when it comes to immigration and family reunion, literally "second-class citizens".

Zank points out the hollowness of Rasmussen’s "we’re not responsible for those cartoons" defense, pointing out how the political establishment is complicit in these phenomenon by its refusal to speak out when Danish extremists preach hatred:

The reason Denmark  is unique among European nations for the political latitude it allows xenophobia is that the Social Democrats remain silent every time the topic of foreigners comes up, says Zank.

He also notes that before the cartoon crisis Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen had never distanced the government from the anti-Islamic tirades of members of the Danish People’s Party.

  • http://abusinan.blogspot.com Abu Sinan

    You are right about your translation. I find it interesting that the Germans are talking about someone else’s problems on the issue.
    This is a HUGE issue in Germany, women have been banned from wearing hijab in various cases, including a woman who was told she could not teach German children in hijab, and the act was upheld by a German court.
    Germans have revised their citizenship laws a bit, until recently you had second and third generation Turks, born in Germany, who had to get a Turkish passport because they didnt qualify for a Germany one.
    I think this is a European issue, and for one country, especially Germany, to think they are above the fray or not involved themselves is stupid.

  • http://www.modspil.dk Carsten Agger

    Abu Sinan:
    But, in all fairness, one might say that the journalist of DIE ZEIT har said or necessarily implied that Germany is “above the fray” – he has just run a story about how it is in Denmark.
    Were he working in Berlin or Cologne, he would probably be filing similar stories about Germany. But, in a sense, of course, it’s a European issue: For similar developments are happening everywhere.
    Spain is some sort of beacon of hope, I’d say; not because I necessarily love its Socialist government … but because it’s a country which has suffered a major terrorist attack and yet has NOT seen a large anti-Muslim backlash (as we unfortunately do see here in Denmark right now).

  • http://profile.typekey.com/svendwhite/ Svend

    Yeah, I was aware of Germany’s longstanding “blood”-based citizenship laws. It’s not all that surprising in some ways, given that Germany is the place where race and culture-based nationalism was born (i.e., the notion of a Volk) in the 19th century.
    The sad thing is that Denmark has in recent years surpassed the old German system. At least in the old days in Germany, once you attained citizenship, you were a full citizen. Here, you have de jure second-class citizenship.
    Reading the Danish report, I didn’t get the sense that the article was complacent vis-a-vis Germany’s problems, but maybe that’s in the original article.
    That’s a very interesting point about Spain, Carsten. I hadn’t looked at the Spanish situation from that angle. Spain suffered a far greater trauma than the Netherlands or even Denmark, yet we’re not hearing of the same problems there.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/svendwhite/ Svend

    Carsten noted how “similiar” developments are happening everywhere in Europe. There was a time not so long ago when Austria was infamous within Europe for its xenophobia. Today, we never hear about Austria’s problems, but instead the problems of Europe’s more “cosmopolitan” and politically enlightened nations.

  • http://www.modspil.dk Carsten Agger

    Here’s an interesting new development: The Prime Minister himself criticizes “Die Zeit” and claims Denmark is actually a tolerant society:
    He claims that Denmark is a tolerant and open society and friendly towards immigrants … which is in some ways true, but evades the point that xenophobic hate speech is *very* abundant, especially from … the Danish People’s Party, which he may not agree with, but never criticizes.
    When asked why such descriptions of Denmar appear in the international press, he answers evasively: “You also see other versions of Denmark” – without being specific.
    What’s interesting here is that Die Zeit’s criticism is apparently important (i.e., well-founded, probably) enough for the Prime Minister to personally addresss it; now how often do we see that?

  • http://abusinan.blogspot.com Abu Sinan

    I think the difference may be that Spain has a long history with this type of stuff, from the Muslim invaders to years of immigrantion from the Maghreb.
    Denmark doesnt have this long history of interaction with people who are not from Europe and I think it is starting to show.