The Danish Government, headed by the liberal prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, has proposed a series of 22 measures, designed to address the position of immigrant communities. In particular, the government has expressed concerns regarding what it terms “parallel societies” situated in “ghettos” within Denmark. The proposals have been subject to criticism as they are over-intrusive and seek to promote the assimilation, rather than the integration, of recent immigrants into Danish society.
David Toube, Director of Policy at Quilliam, states:
“It is not improper for a government to seek to address the challenges presented by immigration, and to seek to integrate families into society. However, any such measures must meet three tests. They must be effective, proportionate and should respect fundamental democratic values. Quilliam’s view is that certain of these measures fail all three tests.
Of particular concern is the proposal that the requirement that children from the age of 1 to 6 receive mandatory day care for a minimum of 30 hours a week for children living in one of the 25 residential areas identified as problematic. This requirement does not apply to Danish children generally. Failure to enrol a child, or to ensure his or her attendance, will result in termination of child benefit. The stated purpose of this measure is to ensure that young children receive an early grounding in “gender equality, community, participation and co-responsibility.
There is no objection to teaching children basic civic values at school. However, this measure is directed only at those living in areas with a significant immigrant population, and not to other Danish citizens. Moreover, the proposal is intrusive, coercive, and may result in the impoverishment of children whose parents fail to comply with the requirement.
Quilliam believes that the best way to advance liberal and democratic values is to promote them with confidence. Such values are internalised where they are freely chosen. It would be a terrible irony if, as a result of this policy, the values of equality and a cohesive society came to be seen as an imposition, backed by the threat of punishment.”