Posted on September 7, 2004

‘Love’s Refugees’ Feel Betrayed by Denmark

Jeffrey Fleishman, L. A. Times, Sep. 6

COPENHAGEN — The train is sleek and fast that each night carries Christina Reves away from her country and toward her husband. It races through Denmark’s scattered marshes and clicks over a bridge and across the water, stopping 35 minutes later in Sweden.

Reves, a Dane, is married to Walid Badawi, an Egyptian. The couple — and more than 1,200 like them — will tell you that love knows no bounds until it encounters Danish immigration laws. This nation is increasingly anti-foreigner, and its strict marriage regulations are sending hundreds of culturally mixed couples into exile each year.

“I cross what is known as ‘Love Bridge’ every night to Sweden, and we joke that we’re love’s refugees,” said Reves, who is training in Copenhagen to be a real estate agent.

“I feel betrayed and sad. It’s not just the rightist politicians. It’s the Danish people too. We’ve become very small-minded. We’re such a rich country, but those of us who married foreigners can’t share it with our spouses.”

Suspicion of immigrants has helped propel the rise of the right-wing Danish People’s Party, which won 12% the vote in the last federal election and is a key member of the coalition government. The party’s platform, according to its website, is clear: “Denmark belongs to the Danes and its citizens must be able to live in a secure community … developing only along the lines of Danish culture.”