On Thursday 9 February, the Danish Parliament passed a motion by 55 votes to 54 clarifying what it means to be ‘Danish’.
Rather than concentrate on citizenship, residency, passion or engagement, Danish politicians decided to make a distinction between ‘Danes’ and ‘immigrants and descendants of non-Western backgrounds’.
I’ve lived in Denmark for most of my adult life and have no intention of leaving. When Danish legislation changed in 2015 to allow for dual citizenship, applying for this was a natural step. The notion of whether this would make me ‘half-Danish’ and consequently less ‘British’ has admittedly not taken up much of my mental space.
Resolution No 38 of February 9 triggered a few interesting thoughts.
Take my mother-in-law, for example. I’d always considered her as Danish through and through. Her parents, however, were both the children of Jewish refugees escaping Russian pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Russia, in geopolitical terms, is most certainly not a Western country. This means that my mother-in-law, as a descendant of non-Western immigrants, is no longer, according to the wisdom of Danish parliamentarians, ‘Danish’.
Consequently, my wife is no longer ‘Danish’, but in fact half a Dane (my father-in-law’s family all coming from good Nordic stock). And what about my kids? They were already half and half. Are they now just one quarter Danish?
Not funny anymore
The most amusing result of this is that should my application for Danish citizenship be successful, I will (having thoroughly Western descendants) become more ‘Danish’ than my in-laws.
What is most certainly not amusing in any way is the effect this will have on thousands of immigrants and their families across Denmark who already feel castigated for their origins by certain elements of the Danish political system. They have now been told by the government itself that they are not an authentic part of the country where their families live, work and contribute to the social
Resolution No 38 is as heartless as it is stupid, and everyone who voted for it should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.