A whole 47 percent of Danes would react negatively if their daughter were to marry a non-Western immigrant with a Muslim background, a recent poll has found. By contrast, only 10 percent would have a favourable opinion of such new relatives.
A survey by pollster YouGov made on behalf of the Christian newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, has indicated that Muslim or non-Western in-laws aren’t Danes sweetest dream.
Some 47 percent of respondents admitted that they would react negatively or very negatively if their daughter were to marry a Muslim man. Similarly, 38 percent would have the same attitude to a Muslim daughter-in-law. By contrast, only 10 percent said they would have a favourable opinion of non-Western or Muslim in-laws.
“This is not necessarily a token of hatred for the others. It may as well be a concern about whether one’s child is becoming different, shifting religion, or getting cultural features that are not part of the family. And then again, what happens when the families get together?” writer Kristina Aamand, herself a child of a Danish mother and a Palestinian father, told Kristeligt Dagblad, stressing the potential differences between two cultures.
Copenhagen priest Flemming Pless admitted that during his time as a clergyman he has encountered multiple problems in multicultural marriages.
“Rationally, I can well understand that the parents are a little uneasy about where the child is now heading. For example, if they think the couple will return to another country”, Pless explained. However, he also added that prefabricated opinions are often dispelled when people get to know each other closer.
According to Jens Peter Frølund Thomsen, an associate professor of political science at Aarhus University, marriage is a classic indicator of integration between various population groups.
“The development among immigrant groups in all Western countries is slow. Afghans marry Afghans, Turks marry Turks, because the choice of spouse is a way of maintaining the minority and preserving its distinctness”, Thomsen said. According to him, it takes multiple generations before the pattern is broken and people start marrying outside of their minority.
Thomsen stressed immigrants living separately from the majority population is far from an exclusively Danish phenomenon and is seen in the US and across Europe.
As of 2019, close to 800,000 of Denmark’s population of 5.8 million (over 13%) were immigrants and their descendants. Of them, 500,000 were non-Western immigrants, Statistics Denmark reported.
Denmark’s Muslim population slightly exceeded 300,000 as of 2018, yet has been increasing steadily in the past decades due to immigration.