Hedge fire causes Afghan man’s hopes of citizenship to go up in flames

The fine he received following his bizarre gardening accident contravened the terms of his application

Nasim Mashir, who was a chief of police in northern Afghanistan and a three-star general in the Afghan army before fleeing from the Taliban to Denmark in 2000, has been denied Danish citizenship because of a gardening mishap, Politiken reports.

Mashir applied for Danish citizenship in January 2013. He satisfies the conditions for getting a Danish passport – he has passed the citizenship test and has a clean criminal record. The only fly in the ointment was a 3,000 kroner fine.

Propane problems
The fateful fine resulted from Mashir having trouble with weeds growing in front of his property earlier this year. On the advice of his neighbour, he invested in a propane torch, assured that this was the most effective and environmentally-friendly form of weed control.

He used it without problems a couple of times, but on June 16, the wind caught the flame, which set fire to some dried plants under the hedge.

“Suddenly there were big flames. I tried to put them out by stamping on them and shouted for help,” the 62-year-old told Politiken.

His wife, his sons and some neighbours came to his aid and tried to extinguish the blaze by throwing water on it, but to no avail. By the time the flames reached a metre and a half in height, the fire brigade was called. They arrived soon after and put out the fire.

Unexpected consequences
The police came afterwards and issued Mashir with a fine of 3,000 kroner, which he paid straight away.

Mashir received a letter from the Justice Ministry in mid-September, asking for his comments on the fine. He explained the accident. But just a few days ago, he received another letter telling him that his citizenship application had been denied because of the fine.

Politicians onside
“It was the biggest shock of my life,” he told Politiken. “It’s something I’ve dreamt about that’s been ripped from me. I was just working in my garden and had an accident. I’m really disappointed by the treatment I’ve received.”

The Justice Ministry’s decision was in line with the letter of the law, but representatives from several political parties have indicated to Politiken they will take the case up with the citizenship committee to try to get the decision reversed.