When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Sources

Rotten In Denmark? Europe's Happy Bellwether Turns Dark

Crackdowns on immigration are one more sign that the small but influential northern European nation is now on the front edge of more sinister trends.

Refugees walking along a Danish road in 2015
Refugees walking along a Danish road in 2015
Ansgar Graw

BERLIN — Petite Denmark has often played the eminent role of a political trendsetter, particularly with regards to Germany, its much larger neighbor. Take for example the events of December 1849, when all "irreproachable men over 30 years of age" elected the first representatives to the newly established Folketing, the Danish Parliament. It wasn't until 1867 that Germans were allowed to do the same.

A century later, in 1967, Denmark became the world's first country to lift the ban on written pornography. Two years after that it allowed "erotic illustrations and objects." At the time, young people from other European countries and the U.S. would pilgrimage to the liberal monarchy, where people addressed each other in familiar terms, and women would go to the beach topless.

But all of that is in the past. For some time now, a country that was once Europe's progressive pacesetter has been developing into a pioneer of restrictions on foreigners and asylum policy. The latest example came on Tuesday, June 5, when Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced a plan to place rejected asylum seekers in a "not particularly attractive" location outside Denmark. In other words, to set up an extraterritorial asylum center.

Perhaps Denmark is again leading the way, only this time in a different political direction.

The discussions with other EU countries are already at an "advanced" stage, said Rasmussen, chairman of the center-right Venstre party.

It fits the political landscape. Since taking office three years ago, the Rasmussen government has passed at least 68 changes to the legislation on asylum and immigration. Only last week, a burqa ban was implemented in the form of a ban on covering one's face in public. The burqa is also banned in France, Austria and Belgium in a limited form. Denmark's opposition, the Social Democrats, voted in favor of the law and are willing to go even further, in that they want to effectively abolish the right of asylum.

Is Denmark losing its liberal soul? Quite possibly. But the perception of most Danes is different. They fear losing their culture, their country and their security if they do not stop the current influx of refugees.

From a progressive point of view, this may be perceived as wrong, regrettable and blameworthy. But the Danes are close to the positions not only of the Poles and Hungarians, but also of the Austrians and French. Perhaps Denmark is again leading the way, only this time in a different political direction, one that Germany is still trying to resist.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Ideas

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest