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Do Denmark discriminate foreigners?


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#1 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1745

Posted 05 August 2013 - 06:52 AM

[background stuff]

Now I have never really liked to start a thread here in the lounge, but this time I feel that I have something on my heart to tell and share with you.

 

I and my family currently live in Denmark, Copenhagen where I have my little thing with game development going on and a small webmaster job. Now all is fine even though the gov here is rather right wing with its language policy and assimilation policy toward all foreigners living in Denmark. I had read about all this in the newspapers and followed it from a distance for many years as I and my family lived in Sweden for many years.

 

Now we live in Denmark and have two kids. They both speak the danish(mother tongue) and mandarin fluently. Our girl on 7 years old is one of the best in all classes(elementary 2nd. next week) so no problem here I guess.  In fact she is way beyond the level of the class she has been attending(teachers own words).

[/background stuff]

 

Now what is the problem then? Well we received a letter this morning from the local government of Copenhagen:

 

 


Dear Parents

I have been informed that your child, (insert name here) born on the x. February 2010, does not attend kindergarten. Children who do not attend kindergarten must take part in a language assessment. Children with another native language than Danish must attend language stimulation classes if they do not speak Danish.

 

To learn whether your child is in need of language stimulation classes, we invite you to a meeting on xx..xx.2013 at xx:xx a.m. for a conversation about language assessment and language stimulation with the educators from the Language Stimulation.

 

What the (some bad word here) O_o

 

Now I then called them and told them that our child indeed DO speak Danish and that their mother tongue is Danish. He then excuse it with that because my wife is a Swedish citizen(Chinese origin) they had sent this letter due to the fact that many kids who had lived in Sweden and moved to Denmark did not speak Danish. I then corrected the person telling him that Swedish and Danish is almost the same and very much related. He then apologized and said it was a mistake and that the letter should not had been sent for us. 

 

Now I have checked out this "law" and found out it was forced through by a nationalistic right wing party in our parliament a few years ago. A something for something so to say.  I also found out that if foreigners like Americans, Chinese etc. do not show up for this "conversation meeting" the local gov holds its right to cancel all further child money payments. For me it is fine(do not really them anyway).

 

Now what is all the fuzz here about then? Well for me this letter is a great insult to many fine hardworking foreigners living here in Denmark.

 

How dare the gov play the language police like that? 

 

How dare the gov demand that homes with small English(or other languages) speaking kids not even reached the age of 4 years "must" attend language stimulation?

 

The so called "language stimulation" is around 30 hours running around in a kindergarten. 

 

That should never be demanded but only put as an offer. 

 

In fact I find this letter to be very disturbing and feel sad for many foreigners in Denmark with kids who wish to see their children grow up around them while they are small and not putting them in a kindergarten.

 

 

Have any of you out there seen something similar in your countries?

 

Is this the language and assimilation policies of your nations?

 

Do you feel this is discrimination of foreigners?

 

Feel free to speak your opinion but keep it civil smile.png

 

Also read this article about the assimilation issue: http://www.heptagonpost.com/node/51

 

 

edit: missed a "not" and a "own" misspelled, also added a link for a fine article about the assimilation issue in Denmark


Edited by Dwarf King, 07 August 2013 - 04:05 PM.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

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#2 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4660

Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:14 AM

I think this is overall a good thing even though it came across badly in your case. Foreigners can be, if you allow me to say,  a complicated issue in a welfare state.

 

In Germany (which is not very far from Danmark), we have more or less two kinds of foreigners. One kind came to work and live in better conditions, learned (more or less, each to their ability) the language, and all in all they're valuable members of society. Working hard, earning their lives, and being accepted by almost everyone (sure, there's always some people who hate everyone except themselves, but they're few).

 

The other kind, and unluckily an increasing part nowadays, are people who have no intent whatsoever to learn the language, or integrate, or respect the local culture or laws. I'm not even talking about "adopting" the culture, I'm talking about respecting it at all. Not few of these live off welfare and not few of them are criminals. You can tell where they live too, it's the streets where cars burn at night and where the police does not dare enter. But of course you're not allowed to say that or you're a Nazi.

The real problem (and the thing most normal citizens cannot understand and are having a more and more serious problem with) is that even someone who is a criminal and doesn't plan to integrate, even someone who is a radical agitator that openly proclames that his goal is to destroy the state, has the same rights as everybody else, which includes welfare, child money, etc. There exist several people here who openly and prominently run something that you can only call  terroristic unions -- and they live from wellfare, and they are protected in what they are doing because of "religious freedom".

 

Thing is, in Denmark, you are allowed to think (or say) that something is not quite right with this approach, and that's basically what the state is saying here, too. The state does not know whether you're the "good kind" or "bad kind" of foreigner, but sure enough they don't want to feed the bad ones.

 

Basically, what the Danish government guy told you is that if you want to live in their country, you'll have to accept a minimum set of conditions. They expect you to learn their language, and they expect your children to learn their language. Otherwise, they give you no child money. Note that they're not telling you "go home", and they're not expelling you or any such thing.

 

So, apparently there was a misunderstanding or a misinformation, and I can understand that you may have upset about it, but I think all in all it's the correct approach.



#3 Zwonkie   Members   -  Reputation: 508

Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:35 AM

I think Samoth is spot on...

 

I'm from Denmark and native. 

The issue is that some foreigners, especially the Muslims, never let they children go to school, instead they do home teaching and these children may have serious language issues later in life when they need to find a job in Denmark. 

 

It basically comes down to, as Samoth also commented, we try to protect the future of our country in terms of workforce and making sure our money isn't wasted on fostering people who don't want/capable of contributing to the country later in life. Having said that, I am sorry that you should receive such a letter when it was clearly not needed, but we are only people and they acted on what they knew - in this case they knew to little about you and your family situation. 



#4 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1745

Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:41 AM

@samoth

 

Thanks for your answer. You reply in a very polite and civilized way. Perhaps I forgot to tell that I am a Dane too smile.png

 

In fact I got a letter from the local government telling me that my 3 years old son's mother language is not Danish, even though I am a Dane smile.png

 

I got it because his mother is a Swedish citizen. Now I have lived for 7 years in Sweden and no gov sent us such a letter regarding our daughter as they see Danish and Swedish like almost the same language. It is actually. I should know as I have translated between Swedish and Chinese on several occasions smile.png

 

Also what do my or any other foreigners kid's level of Danish has to do with crime? We are talking about 3 years old children here smile.png

 

Surely you can see this is rather harsh and odd smile.png


Edited by Dwarf King, 05 August 2013 - 08:44 AM.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 


#5 Zwonkie   Members   -  Reputation: 508

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:01 AM

If you are from Denmark, then i don't know why you are surprised, you should know by now that the danish government is really bad at handling social stuff. ;) 


Edited by Zwonkie, 05 August 2013 - 09:01 AM.


#6 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3085

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:10 AM

@samoth

*snip*

Also what do my or any other foreigners kid's level of Danish has to do with crime? We are talking about 3 years old children here smile.png
 
Surely you can see this is rather harsh and odd smile.png


Seems like it's not really aimed at the kids, but rather at the parents who don't integrate. A sign of a family that intends to fully be a respectful and productive member of the society is that they integrate their children into the culture and society of their adoptive nation. They teach their children the language, they teach them the laws, the help them become a citizen. Seems like, just as samoth describes, such policies as you speak of are aimed at those families that don't integrate. They come to their new country, they refuse to speak or learn the new language, they build their little enclaves like a mini version of the place they came from, they do nothing to help their children become citizens of the new place. Such can be seen as a financial burden in a welfare state, because they often only take and do not give back.

"Legalized discrimination" of course isn't a good solution to this problem, but it certainly beats no solution at all. Just witness the rising tide of resentment and anger here in US as we transition (badly) to a welfare state, one with very few checks at all on who can collect welfare and under what conditions, and certainly with no requirement whatsoever to be a legal citizen, to integrate into the culture, or to in any way shape or form become a productive and contributing member of society. It's madness, and leaders should try to limit that madness (unless, of course, their political power comes from fostering the madness, manipulating the welfare masses for political gain, and poisoning the entire nation in the process).

#7 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2729

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:11 AM

In Australia the required language to learn is US English because no one knows how to change the language settings on their computers :(



#8 Memories are Better   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 769

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:21 AM

A lot of EU countries are currently dealing with 'immigration noise', typically we (UK) hear about Denmark being the worst next to us (us as in UK not US), over here immigration is one song that is on repeat. France and Germany have they fair share of noise too, I am sure Sweden and Netherlands did too as well but maybe got over it or something.

 

Anyway it results in all sorts of rules and regulations. Over here politics is far more messy than just immigration though, but as long as there is noise there will be some bills presented that will be controversial.

 

My point is, its probably a new thing and you shouldn't consider it something racist or offensive, in time Europe will heal and we will go back to hating the rich instead of foreigners, until that happens it seems attractive to blame all our problems on foreigners :D:D I say this as a conservative too ;) I suppose you can complain or even lobby your local MP

 

That "Learn Danish or w/e" rule is similar to one we are pushing but I don't think it applies to EU nationals and I think it is more "you cant live here as a resident if you cant speak English" which doesn't seem like a bad thing depending on how effective it is

 

I haven't had much experience with immigration and the only foreigners I see are overly attractive European neighbours (something I can safely say I don't have any issue with at all), yet immigration is one of the two biggest things you will hear here, the other being the EU and im sure Denmark is making noise about that too.



#9 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3991

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:23 AM

The language thing is kinda curious, since enforcing a single language on immigrants kinda goes over the fact that national borders aren't actual language barriers.

 

I mean, surely at least some of the locals are influenced by surrounding countries, its not like setting a border declares "Lo and behold our mono culture from this line and beyond!". It doesn't works like that, culture doesn't follows international regulations.

 

I think that the "culture" thing ends up being just the people in charge of enforcing the "national culture" actually enforcing what they think its their national culture, ignoring the other, still national, still inside their borders, culture that they do not know/don't consider "national". Which is bollocks of course.

 

Officially you could say that my country speaks spanish, unofficially you'll find a lot of variations even in the same country, and quite a few words inherited from italian immigrants in the last century, you can find even completely different languages that native people speak. And we have no right to take that from them, even if spanish is now the "dominant" language. Hell, they could probably trace their families centuries before my ancestors came to this country.

 

In this case, for the people enforcing the law your family isn't "local" enough DwarfKing. Hopefully most of the other country won't think like that of you.


Edited by TheChubu, 05 August 2013 - 05:01 PM.

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#10 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4660

Posted 05 August 2013 - 09:42 AM

I think that this kind of "legalized discrimination" if you want to call it that prevents or at least slows the development of a more serious racist movement.

 

For someone from the worker class who ends up with a salary well below 1000 per month after tax and social insurance etc. and who needs to pay 500-600 for the apartment and another 100 or so for water and electricity, it is hard to understand why someone who doesn't even bother to learn his language may live in his country without working, living off welfare -- which the worker has to pay for (and... welfare is equal or higher than the salary of a worker).

 

For the same guy, it is hard to understand why his children have to go to a class where they don't learn anything because class goes by the slowest learner, which is the children of that same foreigner guy who doesn't want to learn the language.

 

This slowly but very steadily leads to widespread hate and problems that are eventually impossible to solve, and end in violence.

 

Such a thing as the "legalized discrimination" enforcement of learning the language is an attempt to prevent that from going the worst possible route. Maybe it's not the best attempt, but they're trying.


Edited by samoth, 05 August 2013 - 09:42 AM.


#11 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1745

Posted 05 August 2013 - 10:07 AM

Well the thing is that we do not receive any welfare checks at all. My wife is a Swedish citizen. None of us is religious(should not even be an issue though).

 

I mean these "laws" seem like they have created a whole social system of discrimination against any foreign stuff. Also the employment rate ain't going down just because they force an American family's 3 years old child in kindergarten.

 

Also I strongly believe in freedom. That means man's right, a man's liberal right to be free. No man shall be the slave of a state. The state is a necessary evil. The state receives our tax money and serve us due to the fact that we pay them their salary. Nothing else. They keep things in order. A state does not hold the right to enter our brains and decide whether we write "color" or "colour". 

 

I shall put it blunt and firm. I have come to see Denmark as a communist/right wing state(all the same oily stuff for me as I am a true liberal) with an ungodly high tax(60 procent), a twisted and very wrong view on how its citizen shall served the elite and where human rights is only something pretty on a piece of paper. 

 

Now why should I say this?

Well when a state believes it can demand(try forcing) a foreigners' child under 5 years old to attend their language program they are clearly not respecting an English speaking(or any other language for that sake) persons right to have a family, speak their mother tongues with their kids and keep a little of their culture intact. Something EU and UN have mentioned on several occasions during their control visits to Denmark. Also I have seen how many pure Danes had to travel to other EU nations if they married a foreigner in order to live together under same roof due to a very harsh immigration politic.

 

I have always believed that a state should consist of people who work together and where all man is free and equal, no matter religion, language, ethnically origin, gender or economical situation. Sadly I have come to the conclusion that Denmark is not such a place if you are a foreigner or is married to one.

 

I guess my question is: "what do I get for paying my tax and being a nice citizen?"

The answer is: suspicion and stigmatization from the system.

 

Hence @TheChubu might be right here. We might not be "local" enough after all. 


"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 


#12 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2729

Posted 05 August 2013 - 10:21 AM


We might not be "local" enough after all.

 

Noone is local enough anymore -- the reality is division along ethnic/religious/national lines has been a growth industry for a while and primarily it comes down to one factor - xenophobia. I would like to say that there is someplace in this world where it not happening but the reality is I don't know of any place that qualifies.



#13 demonkoryu   Members   -  Reputation: 976

Posted 05 August 2013 - 11:05 AM


Well when a state believes it can demand(try forcing) a foreigners' child under 5 years old to attend their language program they are clearly not respecting an English speaking(or any other language for that sake) persons right to have a family, speak their mother tongues with their kids and keep a little of their culture intact.

 

I'm trying to understand why you're so upset here. First, as an immigrant to a state you are bound to that state laws, if you don't agree with these laws, then why did you move there in the first place? Second, as people have explained several times, this regulation that offends you so much is primarily aimed at socially endangered immigrants, i.e. those that immigrate purely for welfare with no intention of integration or becoming part of the workforce whatsoever. Getting the children of those people into kindergarten is an essential method of saving their future. I won't go into detail on that, as you're clearly not involved apart from that formality.

 

This is a dilemma that had to be solved by the state authorities which they have handled with politeness and sensibility. Please don't be offended needlessly.



#14 Bregma   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4852

Posted 05 August 2013 - 11:19 AM


got it because his mother is a Swedish citizen. Now I have lived for 7 years in Sweden and no gov sent us such a letter regarding our daughter as they see Danish and Swedish like almost the same language. It is actually.

I  took an SAS (Scandanavian Airlines) flight from London to Copenhagen last year.  As the passengers were settling in and the cabin checks were underway, the steward came on the intercom and announced that because it was an international flight, service would be in both languages, English and Scandanavian.  Further proof that Swedish and Danish are the same.

 

I live in a country (Canada) with a high immigration rate.  We have certain areas in which non-official-language speakers actually outnumber the official-language speakers.  In the educational jurisdiction where I live (education varies from province to province) all students are required to take a proficiency test in the appropriate official language (English or French) and if they do not pass, are required to take remedial classes to improve their facility (and, I'm sorry to say, sometimes "native" speakers fail).  This does not sound unreasonable, since a basic facility in the language of instruction is required if any benefit is to be gained from the publicly-funded education.

 

We would think it abhorrent that the government would assume language facility based on a parent's ethnic, cultural, or national origin.  It would be considered so offensive politicians would probably lose their jobs if held responsible (heh, like that would happen), or at least bureaucrats would be fired and committees struck to examine the situation and write reports.

 

It would sicken me to live in a society in which faceless bureaucrats are watching everyone and know where an innocent schoolchild's parent were born and what language they may have spoken as children.  Destroy it with fire.


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#15 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1745

Posted 05 August 2013 - 11:32 AM


I'm trying to understand why you're so upset here.

 

Well I get a letter saying my son's mother language is NOT Danish, what do you think?

 

 

 


First, as an immigrant to a state you are bound to that state laws

 

We are not an immigrants. We are free European Citizens. Also Denmark has signed the European Human Rights Convention saying that it is not legal to "erase" foreigners' own language in the assimilation process. Hence no European citizens' culture or language can be set as secondary.  

 

 


Second, as people have explained several times, this regulation that offends you so much is primarily aimed at socially endangered immigrants, i.e. those that immigrate purely for welfare with no intention of integration or becoming part of the workforce whatsoever.

 

What do we say to a danish female who choose to go home with her kid for like four years while the husband works? Nothing at all...

 

 

 


those that immigrate purely for welfare with no intention of integration or becoming part of the workforce whatsoever.

 

That is right wing propaganda. Sure some think this way, but I have never like to shoot with scatter when dealing with an issue. Go direct for the problem no the crowd.

 

 

 


Getting the children of those people into kindergarten is an essential method of saving their future

 

Now that argument I do not buy. I have taken plenty of economical statistics on the university to know that many of the reports are not valid at all. No kindergarten will safe people from becoming gang members. In fact some of the worst gang members grew up in fine families where their parents were doctors and lawyers. 

 

 

 


This is a dilemma that had to be solved by the state authorities which they have handled with politeness and sensibility. Please don't be offended needlessly.
 

 

I do not find it polite to claim my son's mother language is not Danish(or even to make it a problem if it was not so) and I do not find it polite that a state's officials sit in their offices claiming that my son OR any foreigners son for that sake will be a criminal if they are not sent to kindergarten built on some statistics that I easily can counter with pure logical analysis. I find that very offensive, utterly rude and very barbaric. It clearly shows what view these organizations and their officials have on foreigners and their kids. Outrageous and extremely uncivilized way of dealing with free citizens who behave well, pay their taxes. 

 

edit: some typo mistakes


Edited by Dwarf King, 17 August 2013 - 08:14 AM.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 


#16 Zwonkie   Members   -  Reputation: 508

Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:06 PM

<Well I get a letter saying my son's mother language is NOT Danish, what do you think?>

 

You are assuming that this letter is not an accident and that it shouldn't have been sent to you. But you have already specified that you talk with the government and they apologized for the letter as you clearly didn't fall into the group the letter was meant for.  

 

Stop being so emotional about an error. Having said that, I do think the government should strive to be better at sending these kinds of letters to the correct recievers, such as to spare you the huge grief you obviously have experienced. But please don't stop the discussion I think it very interesting and necessary to have..  



#17 alnite   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2063

Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:13 PM

I prefer that governments to be hands off as much as possible from citizens life.  I can also understand why a  country would like to enforce the spoken language.  I think it's a mess here in the US.  Some people can be living in this country for 10 years, and haven't got a clue how to speak English.  I don't know how they get around.

 

If government truly want to enforce, are there some sort of certificate to indicate that "Yes, I am proficient in Danish?"



#18 Zwonkie   Members   -  Reputation: 508

Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:17 PM

Only a danish test foreigners have to take, but I cant remember when they take it. 

 

They have to answer question about danish history and general laws i believe..

 

Perhaps when they leave the asylum centers?! 



#19 Dwarf King   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1745

Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:37 PM

That language test a lot of my Dane friends cannot pass. You see the test is academic language levels and most workers would fail badly as soon as the grammar hits inn. I have even taken the history test a few times for fun(on newspapers online) in order to see if an "educated" Dane as me could pass it. I usually get around 99 procent correct. Again I can guarantee that many of my danish friends who do not even hold a high school diploma would never pass it.  

 

But a test in Danish history is not useful. Knowing that our parliament has 179 seats or when we lost Norway ain't going to make people less (insert your prejudices here) or more (insert your prejudices here) of anything.

 

The whole system is a joke. It seems like my own nation is in a state of panic and is acting illogical.


Edited by Dwarf King, 05 August 2013 - 12:44 PM.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education"

Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

Albert Einstein

 


#20 Zwonkie   Members   -  Reputation: 508

Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:50 PM

<The whole system is a joke. It seems like my own nation is in a state of panic and is acting illogical.>

 

I agree, many new legislation just seem like they are bored and have to think of new laws in order to keep them self seated..

Unfortunately there are more rules/laws being made than being removed - we move towards living in a big bowl in the fear that we may drive over 20mph and kill everyone! 

 

Or another way of saying it, they only know how to tighten the laws until we all suffocate.. or at least it feels like this.. 


Edited by Zwonkie, 05 August 2013 - 12:53 PM.





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