Just as the first wave of Muslim invaders began arriving in Denmark from Austria and Germany over the weekend, the Danish government has kicked off an advertising campaign meant to keep them away.
The Local (h/t Maria J) Denmark’s ruling liberal Venstre party’s ad campaign in international newspapers designed to keep refugees away from its shores. The Danish government’s much-discussed advertising campaign publicising recent welfare cuts made its debut in Lebanese newspapers on Monday.
Shortly after the government announced in July that it would significantly cut benefits to asylum seekers, Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said that she would make sure that asylum seekers and human smugglers were directly informed of the policy change through advertising and social media campaigns.
On Monday, the first adverts from the Danish government were published in four Lebanese newspapers.
An English-language version, published in Lebanon’s The Daily Star, informs readers that “Denmark has decided to tighten the regulations concerning refugees in a number of areas.”
— Justin Cremer (@justinCPH) September 7, 2015
Støjberg took to Facebook to defend the ads. “Today I have, as promised, published advertisements in four Lebanese newspapers informing about the changed conditions for people who apply for asylum in Denmark,” she wrote. She said the text would also be placed in asylum centres in Denmark in ten different languages and spread on social media.
“The aim is to inform objectively and soberly about [Danish rules], which the government is in the process of tightening,” she added. “In light of the huge influx to Europe these days, there is good reason for us to tighten rules and get that effectively communicated.”
The government’s campaign has been published in ten different languages on DIS’s website and according to Jyllands-Posten, flyers in all ten languages have also been posted in asylum centres across Denmark. The Arabic text is also reportedly being circulated widely through social media. It reads:
The Danish immigration authorities are informing about changes of conditions regarding residence in Denmark being implemented by the new Danish government.
Denmark has decided to tighten the regulations concerning refugees in a number of areas. The Danish Parliament has just passed a regulation to:
Reduce the social benefits significantly. The social benefits for newly arrived refugees will be reduced by up to 50 percent.
The government will maintain and ensure that:
Foreign nationals granted temporary protection in Denmark will not have the right to bring family members to Denmark during the first year.
Foreign nationals can only be granted a permanent residence permit after 5 years at the earliest. Prior to this they risk having their residence permit revoked.
In order to obtain a permanent residence permit in Denmark there are language requirements in terms of the ability to speak and understand the Danish language.
When an application for asylum is regarded manifestly unfounded it is refused in accordance with a particularly expedited procedure.
All rejected asylum seekers must be returned quickly from Denmark.
There is a special return centre to ensure that rejected asylum seekers leave Denmark as quickly as possible.
Venstre lawmaker Marcus Knuth defended the idea:
“We want to send a clear message to human traffickers. We believe that they have very detailed information as to which European countries pay the highest levels of social welfare assistance to new arrivals. Since the liberal government has been in power we have cut welfare payments to immigrants in order to relieve the extremely heavy burden that illegal immigrants are placing on the Danish state.
Since cutting social welfare payments [in early July], the number of immigrants arriving went down by a third, although it’s still too early to know for sure whether the cuts were the reason for that.”
“A very high number of refugees do not apply for asylum in the first EU country that they reach, such as Greece or Italy, but rather much further north. Through our meetings with the European border security agency Frontex, we’ve learned that the main reason for this is the much higher level of social welfare benefits paid out in northern European countries. Therefore, we have reduced such payments to the same level as those received by full-time students, which is still enough to live on, even if you have children.”
A chart comparing social welfare benefits offered to asylum seekers by various European countries, among them Denmark and Germany, was recently published in the “Jyllands-Posten” newspaper and is supposedly making the rounds among human traffickers. Did that chart directly influence your decision?
“The Frontex annual report was more important for us. The comparison chart was published after we had decided to make the policy changes. But we view the chart as one of a series of indications that show that social welfare benefits are one of the most important reasons for smuggling people into very specific countries.”
Single adult invaders will now be given the equivalent of a student grant – 5,945 Danish crowns (800 euros; $890) per month – down from 10,849 crowns.
The popular anti-Muslim immigration Danish People’s Party has suggested that the government produce a video similar to the one (below) produced recently by the Australian government, in which it is clearly stated that anyone who enters the country illegally will never be able to remain there. What are your thoughts on that?
“Not if it’s up to the liberal party. We want our campaign to be objective. We have no intention of fear mongering, like in the Australian campaign. We simply want to show people the numbers, and that Denmark has cut its social welfare benefits by about half. We think it’s unfair, for instance, that when it comes to asylum seekers from Syria alone, Denmark took in some 7,000 last year, whereas Finland, a comparable country, only took in 150. That’s why our voters keep telling us that we simply cannot deal with such large numbers of immigrants.”
DW It’s too early to determine whether the benefits change will have the impact desired by the government and its supporters. But Denmark’s hard-nosed reputation does appear to be convincing asylum-seekers to look elsewhere for a new home. Figures for the first seven months of the year show applications for refugee status are down to 5,174, a decrease of 7.52 percent.
“That pleases me,” says Martin Henriksen, integration spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, which decided not to join a coalition government despite achieving second place in the general election two months ago.
“In the past we have taken a lot of refugees in Denmark. And we’ve come to a point where we have to say enough is enough. We can’t take any more. We can’t handle this type of immigration. It’s too heavy a burden on a small country like Denmark. So let’s just step on the brake.”
Henriksen is unrepentant.
“As long as the Muslim invaders can see a future in Europe, they will keep on coming. We have a job. And the job is to tighten the rules so the human smugglers and the asylum-seekers can see that the future is not in Europe or in Denmark. I think it’s right that when you come to Denmark you earn the right to benefits, so you have to be on the work market for a couple of years or live in Denmark so you have the same rights as a Danish citizen.”