Queen Margrethe of Denmark has made a departure from normal political neutrality on contentious subjects to warn migrants to Denmark of the level of behaviour expected of them on arrival.
Her comments come in the aftermath of a deadly terror attack in Copenhagen earlier this year, where a conference on political art – including cartoons depicting Mohammad, the Islamic religious figure – was attacked by an Islamist with an assault rifle. Two were killed and five injured as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein sprayed the meeting with bullets, as he attempted to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Another died when he shot a Jewish man in the head outside a Synagogue.
Although Queen Margerethe’s language was measured and affirmed the welcome to Denmark for all people, the message that newcomers should adapt to Danish life, rather than the other way around was clear. Speaking in an interview with conservative broadsheet Berlingske, Margrethe II of Denmark said because the country was so small, traditionally Danes had a closer kinship and felt more at ease with their fellow countrymen, more so than Germans or Dutch, a relationship that is coming under strain.
The Queen said that while the terror attack in Copenhagen had been a shock to the nation, and had put their way of life under pressure, she was not entirely surprised, remarking: “I thought – ‘so it is our turn’. It did not surprise me. When we saw what happened in Paris, I thought that we could well be next”. Saying that in Denmark, “cool heads keep warm hearts”, the Queen said of the nation’s reaction to terrorist attacks: “They must first of all know that we are not afraid. They want to scare us, but we must not be intimidated. It is essential”.
The core message to migrants was that they must leave their old ways of life behind and adopt Danish attitudes upon arrival.
“It is obvious that when a society accepts a lot of people from the outside, one must also set the requirement that they understand where they have come. We will make space [for migrants], but they have come to our society and they can therefore not expect that their old societal models can just be carried on in our country.
“They can go to the mosque when they want – anything else would be unreasonable – but when they begin to do things that aren’t consistent with the overarching patterns of Danish society, they must realize that that will not do.
“That November begins at the end of October and lasts until the end of March isn’t fun to experience when you come from a dry and warm climate. One can become sad from all of that greyness. But that is a premise of living here.”
Happily welcoming everyone is not a policy of the Queen that is welcomed by all, however. The Dansk Folkpartei, a new political movement analogous to Britain’s UKIP in its Euro-scepticism and support for limited immigration, protested this week that it was “ludicrous” for the left-wing government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt to impose a further 12,000 migrants on local authorities this year.
The party has also made calls for the government to have powers to strip “criminal migrants” of their citizenship.