Denmark: Increase in 2nd generation immigrants marrying each other

Denmark: Increase in 2nd generation immigrants marrying each other

Second generation immigrants are marrying each other in Denmark like never before. Marriage with Danes is unacceptable in many communities.

Second generation immigrants no longer get their chosen one in the land of origin, but rather find them in immigrant families in Denmark. The number of marriages between two 2nd generation immigrants from non-Western countries has gone up from 25 in 1999 to 130 in 2007, which is five times as many. This according to a new report from Statistics Denmark.

The implementation of the 24-year rule and the demand for ties (to Denmark) are according to many experts the reason that many immigrants are foregoing family reunification with a spouse from the land of origin. Instead they look for a spouse in Denmark. But this doesn't bring about more mixed marriages between immigrants and Danes. On the contrary, the number of mixed marries has been stable at about 100 annually since 1999, even though the number of newlywed immigrants is going up.

Just 1 in 20 women of Turkish background in Denmark married a Danish man in 2007. This means that some Turkish women don't dare follow their heart, thinks integration consultant Esma Birdi.

She says that it seems as though even if a Turkish woman likes a Danish man, she knows almost instinctively that a marriage with him will cause big problems. Most women aren't strong enough to keep to their choice and they therefore forgo the Danish man in order to keep a religious and cultural fellowship with their family and community.

In the Turkish community hierarchy, marriages follow a clear pattern, says Esma Birdi, who is herself of Turkish background.

For example, Turkish parents prefer that their daughter marry Turkish Muslims. If that doesn't happen, it will be with another Muslim. If that doesn't happen either, it can be a Danish man who converted to Islam. But while he goes all the way to convert, many Turkish communities will disapprove of it, she says.

Religion plays an all decisive role in choosing a spouse, concludes Lene Kühle, lecturer of the psychology of religion at Aarhus University. She says that within Islam the practice is that a Muslim woman will marry a Muslim man, and that this naturally has an effect that people won't override, but that in all religions people think it's a good idea that people marry somebody from the same religion.

Integration consultant Manu Sareen, elected to the Copenhagen city council for the Social Liberal Party, admits that, but he thinks that there's a particularly strong pressure from immigrant parents of Muslim background. The daughter just doesn't come home with somebody named Rasmus, he says.

The few mixed marriages between immigrants and Danes are a symptom that we live in a parallel society, thinks Manu Sareen. The numbers show me that there's an acute polarization between Danes and ethnic minorities, he says. Both Danes and the minorities can each see that there's a lot wrong with the other group and therefore separate from them.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

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