COPENHAGEN — Lise Ramslog was out for a barefoot amble on the warm day last September that Europe’s refugee crisis came to her remote village in southern Denmark.
The 70-year-old grandmother had planned a simple stroll. What she found in her quiet, coastal community were hundreds of exhausted asylum seekers who had arrived on the ferry from Germany only to be stranded without access to public transportation. Some had begun to walk along the highway in desperation.
Ramslog decided on the spot that she would help: She ended up giving two young couples, a small child and a newborn baby a 120-mile ride in her cramped sedan to their destination in Sweden. “When we crossed the border, they rejoiced and cried,” she recalled.
In another context, Ramslog might be known as a good Samaritan.
But the Danish government has a different term for her: convicted human smuggler.
The decision by authorities to prosecute Ramslog — and to charge hundreds of other Danish citizens with a similar crime — is to many here just the latest evidence of a society that, when faced with an unparalleled influx of migrants and refugees, has taken a nasty turn.
In that respect, Denmark has company: Across Europe, a once-tender embrace of those fleeing conflicts on the continent’s doorstep has evolved into an uncompromising rejection.