The issue hasn’t recently cropped up spectacularly for a while, like it did during 2005-2006′s Muhammed cartoons controversy, but the problem of integrating immigrants – particularly from non-Western cultures – has certainly never left Denmark, not to mention most other Western European countries. Now the head of one of the main Danish political parties, one that is actually part of the current ruling coalition, Det Konservative Folkeparti (the Conservative People’s Party), Lene Espersen, has put forward a solution, as reported by Anita Sørensen in Berlingske Tidende.
(Please don’t confuse Det Konservative Folkeparti with Dansk Folkeparti, or the Danish People’s Party, which made its name with its aggressively anti-immigrant stance and is not currently in the government – although it effectively is, since its support enables the current coalition to carry on without being voted down in the Parliament. Also of note: Lene Espersen, a woman, is consistently labeled in the newspapers as the Conservative People’s Party’s formand or “spokesman”; I guess they don’t get all hung up about gender- or politically-correct terminology in Denmark.)
“We have yielded when it comes to democratic integration,” was the pronouncement on Tuesday last week as the Conservative People’s Party presented a 13-point plan for doing something about that “yielding.” Their emphasis lay upon upholding “Danish values” and inculcating them into all those who come to reside in the country; of particular importance here was equal rights for women, given how that is frequently a problem among some of those immigrants. (Which particular immigrant-groups demonstrate such problems was never mentioned, at least in the news-report – I guess the Danes have their problems with “political correctness” after all!) In practical terms this meant such things such as making sure “equal rights for women” is part of the integration-course that all new immigrants have to follow, and ensuring similar instruction on that and democratic values generally is built into elementary and middle school curricula. But there was also a punitive provision, namely that “if oppression of a family’s women can be established,” then further access to higher education can be denied, apparently to all involved family members.
Espersen further declared, “We have believed that if one simply learns Danish and gains a job, the rest comes by itself. This doesn’t happen.” That’s right, Ms. Espersen, but do Danish values necessarily “come by themselves” even for those who were born in Denmark, as full Danish citizens? One other politician, named Manu Sareen, thinks not. (He’s of Indian descent, but arrived in Denmark at the age of 3 and is a prominent member of Copenhagen’s city government as a member of Det Radikale Venstre – the Radical Left, a “social-liberal” party.) As Anita Sørensen reports yet again in the pages of Berlingske Tidende, he therefore thinks such “Danish values” education is a good idea, not only for immigrants, but also for the Danes themselves. And especially in the area of women’s equal rights:
This is a bloody good idea, for there are 60,000 Danish children who experience their mothers getting beaten in Denmark every single year. We just have to say that this is such a good idea that it should apply to all families. It’s important that we don’t forget the Danish women who are beaten by their men.