New system of achieving points in order to obtain permanent permit of residence may exclude religious organizations

Just a few days after the government and Danish People’s Party presented a new law for foreigners in Denmark – a much debated system of obtaining points in order to get a permanent permit of residence – the bill seems to run into problems.

According to the bill a foreigner will need to obtain a score of 100 points in order to obtain a permanent permit of residence. Points can be obtained by having a job, speaking Danish, knowing Danish history and culture, engaging in voluntary organizations etc. Organizations in which one can volunteer and thereby obtain 15 points were supposed to be selected from the tax authorities’ list of charities. However, The Islamic Society in Denmark is on that list and several MPs of the government parties as well as MPs from Danish People’s Party will not allow Muslims to obtain points by volunteering in the Islamic Society in Denmark. During the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis the Islamic Society in Denmark played a facilitating role in the riots and several politicians say they suspect the Islamic Society in Denmark of being fundamentalists.

This creates difficulties in choosing which organizations should be approved as part of the new system of obtaining points. A solution could be that no religious organization should be part of the system but MP Naser Khader refuses this and says that many Muslim organizations are promoting integration of foreign Muslims into Danish society. The bill hasn’t been formally presented to the parliament yet and a heated debate on whether the bill can pass is expected.

Internal debates on Muslims in the Conservative People’s Party

The leader of the Conservative People’s Party, Lene Espersen, has not succeeded in creating internal consensus after the debate on a burqa ban. A group of seven dominant members challenges Lene Espersen regarding questions on integration. “We are an informal network of members of the Conservative People’s Party who doesn’t think we should compete with Danish People’s Party about who can disparage Muslims the most” Peter Norsk says. He is a member of the Conservative Party’s central board. The network is against the Conservative Party’s proposals on banning prayer halls at schools and that benefit fraud should lead to the loss of Danish citizenship.