Fifteen words in a statement from the Danish Parliament have created a major stir in Denmark.
“Parliament believes that Danes should not be in the minority in neighbourhoods in Denmark,” reads the text.
“Today there are areas in Denmark where the proportion of immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries is over 50 percent.”
A Dane by any other name
The combination of the two phrases have become a major point of contention. Some people believe the wording indicates that a majority in Parliament believes that a person cannot be a Dane if they are an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants from a non-Western country.
“This morning a majority in Parliament decided that one is not a Dane if they are a descendant or immigrant from a non-Western country,” said Enhedslisten spokesperson Pernille Skipper.
“Even if they have a Danish passport and were born and raised and pay taxes here. It is one of the most violent examples of ‘them and us’ I have ever seen.”
Creating some distance
The decision, decided on by a majority in Parliament, has no legal significance. The government and Dansk Folkeparti were behind the wording, but many started to distance themselves from the formulation after the debate flared up.
Venstre MP Jan E Jørgensen called the wording “a screwed formulation” on his Facebook page.
“The wording says that an immigrant cannot be a Dane,” he told Politiken.
“That’s how it can be interpreted and that is very, very bad.”
In the ghetto
The concerns seem to be based on the realisation that one of the five criteria for when an area is defined as a ghetto is when more than half of the residents are immigrants or descendants of immigrants with a non-Western background.
Konservative MP Naser Khader, whose name appears on the statement, said that he would have preferred it if it had been expressed differently.
“I would have worded it differently, but the debate annoys me because no-one is being excluded,” he said.
Khader stressed that that statement is not a law and simply a declaration of the intent of the government to combat ghettoisation and immigration from non-Western countries.
Laura Lind Dahl from the Liberal Alliance was also annoyed by the debate.
“In hindsight, I can see the text can be interpreted differently, and I’m sorry if anyone interprets that we are judging people based on ethnicity, because we do not,” she said. “But we need to talk about the composition of residents that is essential for good integration. ”
Dahl said the sentences about Danes not being outnumbered should have probably been omitted.