Dansk Folkeparti (DF) has condemned the government for granting citizenship to a “potential terrorist” in a full-page advert that has itself caused outrage, and which three major newspapers refused to run.
The full-page advert lists the names of around 700 people who are due to be granted Danish citizenship and states: “One person on this list is a danger to Denmark’s security. He will now become a Dane.”
DF is referring to an unnamed stateless Palestinian who is entitled to Danish citizenship under a UN convention, but who has been identified as a threat to Danish security by the domestic intelligence agency PET.
The names of the 700 new Danes are publicly available through parliament’s website, but Bo Lidegaard, the editor-in-chief of Politiken newspaper, argued that DF's advertisement casts suspicion on all foreigners who have succeeded in achieving citizenship.
“It’s disquieting that a stateless individual who might be a threat to our security is entitled to citizenship […] but it’s the price we pay for living in a society ruled by law,” Lidegaard wrote in an editorial explaining why Politiken refused to publish the advert. “Placing suspicion on innocent people who are excited about becoming full citizens in our society stands in sharp contrast to the values of a free and democratic state.”
Newspapers Berlingske and metroXpress also refused to run the advert, while Jyllands-Posten and Ekstra Bladet published it.
Several politicians also condemned the advert. Among them was Zenia Stampe, the immigration spokesperson for government coalition party Radikale.
“It is populist spin [that] reduces Dansk Folkeparti to a banal voice for hate – the Danish Hateparty.”
Representatives of the government’s two other coalition partners, Socialdemokraterne and Socialistisk Folkeparti, also condemned the advert, as did far-left support party Enhedslisten (EL).
“It tastelessly tarnishes the names of the many people who have sought citizenship,” EL spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen told Ekstra Bladet. “It’s completely unreasonable that these people should find their names in newspapers.”
Ahmed H Dhaqane, the chairman of the Somali association Somalisk Forening argued that the advert was counterproductive.
"The advert does not promote integration," Dhaqane told Ekstra Bladet. "Instead it fosters hate and polarisation. We live in a society ruled by law, so criminals should be punished, but only once they have actually done something criminal."
But DF’s values spokesperson, Pia Kjærsgaard, defended the advert. She wrote on Facebook that all the information was already freely available and accused the newspapers of putting political correctness ahead of free speech.
“Dansk Folkeparti does not think that citizenship should be arbitrarily handed to people,” Kjærsgaard wrote. “People need to prove that they have earned the recognition, rights and protection that being a Danish citizen offers.”
Kjærsgaard referred to the recent incident in London in which a soldier was murdered in the street by two men with Nigerian backgrounds who, she argues, wouldn’t have been able to carry out the act if it weren’t for their British citizenship.
“It would be a simple preventative measure if the justice minister had valued his country’s security over his own self-important political correctness and had listened to PET's warnings and removed [the individual] from the list of coming Danish citizens,” Kjærsgaard wrote, referring to the man on the list who is considered to be a threat.
The stateless Palestinian in question is one of several hundred who were wrongly denied citizenship by the former Immigration Ministry, which failed to adhere to UN conventions when considering their applications.
In 2011, Information newspaper revealed that the even after ministry realised the error, it knowingly continued to illegally deny citizenship to the stateless who were entitled to it, leading to the resignation of the then immigration minister, Birthe Rønn Hornbech (Venstre).
A commission is currently underway to determine who was responsible, though civil servants and politicians have so far simply pointed fingers at each other.