A Danish City’s Strategy for Repelling Muslim Refugees: Eat More Pork

The Randers city council made dishes made from pork—forbidden for strict Muslims—mandatory for all regional menus.

Thousands show their support for refugees in front of the Danish Parliament at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen on Oct. 6, 2015, after the Danish government tightened rules for asylum seekers. (Photo: Soeren Bidstrup/Scanpix Denmark/Reuters)

Jan 24, 2016· 2 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

Danish politicians in Randers are waging a citywide food fight against Muslim refugees and their children.

On Thursday, city council members mandated that municipal menus—including those of schools and day care centers—must add pork to their lists. It’s a move that’s being criticized as an attack on refugees, considering many are Muslim and can’t eat pork products for religious reasons. But Randers politicians insist it’s a way for them to preserve one of the country’s biggest food traditions.

One council member said Thursday’s decision comes after complaints of too many “concessions” being made for those—namely Muslims—who don’t consume pork.

“The signal we want to send here is that if you’re a Muslim and you plan to come to Randers, don’t expect you can impose eating habits on others. Pork here is on an equal footing with other food,” city council member Frank Noergaard told The Associated Press. Noergaard is also a member of the anti-immigration, populist group that proposed the menu mandate, the Danish People’s Party.

Denmark is one of the world’s largest pork exporters, producing about 28 million pigs annually. For more than a century, much of the economy has relied on its trade and production. It makes up nearly half of the country’s agricultural exports and 5 percent of overall exports.

The news of Randers’ citywide pork policy comes after the Danish parliament passed a resolution that forces the government to build state-funded settlements for refugees on the outskirts of its cities. The deadline is set for March.

Many migrants living in camps inside the city oppose the proposal, saying the government-erected villages could create ghettos and further separate refugees from the rest of the country.

“Isolating us in refugee villages, with no proper contact with Danes, poor opportunities to learn Danish and get a job, will have major consequences,” a refugee named Fitwi told a Danish newspaper.

Danish lawmakers are taking measures to crack down on the current immigration policy. The effects of such, if passed, would mean asylum seekers wouldn’t be able to reunite with family members for years and must hand over their valuables for housing and food expenditures.

The government is in the process of finalizing a bill that would allow enforcement officers to legally confiscate up to $1,450 in refugees’ cash and belongings, though sentimental valuables like wedding rings are off the table. A decision will be made on Jan. 26.

Though Denmark accepted a record 20,000 asylum seekers last year, opposition to allowing refugees to enter the nation has increased since then. According to Reuters, a recent poll found that 37 percent of Danish people are against the idea of accepting more refugees. The percentage is said to have doubled since September.

Human rights groups are trying to convince government officials to reject upcoming immigration policy proposals, as they may infringe upon worldwide human rights laws.

“The international community must call Denmark out as it enters a race to the bottom,” Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, told Reuters. “Denmark was one of the first champions of the Refugee Convention, but its government is now brazenly creating blocks to the well-being and safety of refugee families.”