To become a Danish citizen, people are expected to shake hands with the official during their naturalisation ceremony.
Leftists complain that such a requirement “discriminates against Muslims” and is in fact aimed at discouraging them from becoming Danish.
Mayor and Social Democrat Kasper Ejsing Olesen told the Guardian that such a measure was “absurd”. He complained that “the immigration minister thinks this is an important thing to spend time on,” and added: “Shaking hands does not show if you are integrated or not.”
But Denmark’s Minister of Integration, Inger Stojberg, defended the handshake as “a completely natural part of the ceremony”.
A spokesman of an extremist Islamic group told Stojberg that he would not have become Danish if such a requirement had been introduced earlier.
“I asked him if he would advise his followers in Hizb ut-Tahrir to pass on it, and he said he would. And that’s exactly what we want with the naturalization ceremony,” Stojberg explained.
Stojberg has also told the country’s Somali migrants to return home and work on improving their own country because the Danish government has ruled parts of Somalia safe for return. The automatic right to asylum from Somalia in particular was revoked in Denmark’s 2015 amendment to its Immigration Act.
The Immigration Service (IS) started to review refugee residency permits in early 2017. As a result some 1 000 Somalis have had their Danish residency permit revoked, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Of the thousand, some 516 had been directly granted asylum while another 412 were family members who had joined them thanks to chain migration, also known as “family reunion” or “family reunification”.
“If you no longer need our protection and your life and health are no longer at risk in your home country, and specifically in Somalia, you must of course return home and rebuild the country from which you came from,” Stojberg told the migrants.
In autumn 2016, the IS said that it would use the new legal basis to review residence permits given to Somalis because of changes to “general conditions” in that country, because “there is no longer a basis for asylum, simply because they come from there”.
In October, Stojberg rejected EU efforts to impose migrant quotas, saying “too few [migrants] contribute” to the workforce. The country’s prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen has also said it is “wrong” to force European Union member states to take asylum seekers.
This month, Danish Finance Minister Kristian Jensen, said the government plans to send foreign criminals and rejected undeportable asylum seekers to a remote island off the Danish coast.
Denmark’s government has struck a deal to move “unwanted” migrants to a remote uninhabited island once used for contagious animals.
Stojberg, of the center-right Venstre party, commented on Facebook that certain migrants “are unwanted and they will feel it”.
The deal is part of a new finance bill for 2019 agreed between the center-right government and the Danish People’s Party (DPP), an anti-immigration party.
DPP immigration spokesperson Martin Henriksen told CNN: “Our hope … is that people outside Denmark will understand that Denmark is not a very attractive place to seek asylum, if you are of refugee background, mean to cause harm, or incite crime.”
Henriksen said that the policy was modelled on the Australian immigration policy. “Our approach is that they should stay on the island as much as possible, and if we can keep them there the whole time, we will aim to do that.”
On Facebook Stojberg wrote: “When you are unwanted in Danish society, you should not be a nuisance for regular Danes,” adding, “(The migrants) will be getting a new address.”
According to the plan, which must still be passed by the parliament, the new center will house migrants who have only “tolerated stay” status, meaning they do not have a residence permit but cannot be deported.
Louise Holck, deputy director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, told CNN: “There is no grounds for detention, and from a human rights perspective, we are not just talking about windows with bars …. We will have to assess that they are not detained de facto.”
But Henriksen told CNN that he is not overly concerned about human rights conventions. “We are doing what we believe is in the best interest of Danes, and if it comes down to choosing whose interest to protect — then we will take care of our own first,” he said.
“I hope it will inspire other countries to do the same,” said Henriksen. “If they want any advice they are always welcome to call. We want other countries to tighten up their rules too. We believe it is in everyone’s interest to do that.”
Jensen told CNN: “Denmark is an island. We have lots of islands and lots of Danes living on islands. None of them feel this is a violation of their rights.”
Muslim migrants have called the video “deeply racist” while open-border enthusiasts described the plan as “barbaric”.
The Danish government has meanwhile vowed to demolish houses in the Vollsmose migrant ghetto after Rasmussen promised a nationwide crackdown on “parallel societies and the counter-cultures within”.