Denmark’s extreme right beefs up anti-immigrant line ahead of vote

Dansk FolkepartiCOPENHAGEN — The Danish government’s far-right ally in parliament has made immigration, especially by Muslims, its main target of attacks ahead of next week’s legislative elections. In its election campaign for the November 13 poll, the Danish People’s Party (DPP) blasts Muslim immigrants for not respecting Danish traditions and for taking advantage of the Scandinavian country’s generous welfare system.

One poster shows a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf withdrawing money from a cash dispenser machine drawn with the logo of the welfare benefits office, with the caption: “Make demands on the foreigners. Now they must contribute!”. Another shows a group of veiled women under the headline: “Follow the country’s traditions and customs or leave.”

In a third poster, the party makes reference to the crisis sparked by the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper two years ago. The global row that followed lasted months and included attacks on Danish embassies, the burning of the country’s flag and boycotts of its products across the Muslim world. The poster shows a hand drawing the Prophet Mohammed, over the words: “Freedom of expression is Danish. Censorship is not. Defend Danish values.”

Therkel Straede, a Holocaust expert at Syddansk University, compared the party’s tactics to those used by the Nazis during World War II. “The DPP is not Nazi, but its ideology, with its xenophobic extreme nationalism, resembles Nazism, since it tries to stamp out a minority,” he said.

Two days after the government called snap elections for November 13, the DPP presented a series of law proposals aimed at Muslim immigrants, including bans on using the Muslim headscarf in public places and on special worship areas for Muslims in the workplace. The party also called for a ban on halal meat in daycare centres and on special locker rooms for Muslim schoolgirls.

“There is every reason to tighten the screws, because Danish values are under pressure,” said deputy head of the party Peter Skaarup, insisting that “these demands will at the end of the day be beneficial to the integration of immigrants.”

During the general elections in February 2005, the DPP won 13.3 percent of the votes, or 24 seats, making it the third-largest party in parliament and allowing it to wield significant influence on Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s Liberal-Conservative coalition government.

AFP, 11 November 2007