Denmark’s immigration minister is in a celebratory mood. Upon passing the country’s 50th regulation against immigration, Inger Støjberg celebrated with cake.
The integration and immigration official, who assumed the role in November, took to Facebook this week to post a smiling photo of herself holding the cake, gayly adorn with fruit, the Danish flag, and a prominent number 50. The message read: “Today the 50th restriction was passed on immigration. This must be celebrated!”
Denmark, once relatively welcoming of immigrants (it was one of the first country to sign up to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention), began to harden as its refugee population ramped up in the 1990s. The shift in mood culminated in the rise of its anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP) during the country’s 2015 elections, now its second largest political party. Post-election, Støjberg played a major role in moving immigration policy to the right.
Among the 50 regulations she is celebrating is a controversial law that forces refugees entering the country to hand over their valuables as compensation for their upkeep while applying for asylum. The law gives police officers the right to search refugees’ possessions and seize cash and individual items exceeding 10,000 Danish kroner ($1,450). International organizations have likened it to the Nazis’s seizing of Jewish belongings during the Holocaust.
Støjberg’s post quickly made the rounds on social media, inspiring both praise and condemnation. On commenter posted in response to Støjberg’s photo on Facebook, ”There is something seriously wrong when it’s good advertising in itself to make life harder for refugees and immigrants.” A Danish cartoonist tweeted a cartoon of a girl with no arms looking to Stojberg, who’s holding a cake. “No arms, no cake,” Stojberg says to the girl.
In self-defense, Støjberg told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that it is “not so unnatural to celebrate political victories,” while adding that she paid for the cake herself. She argued that she was elected on a promise to tighten immigration and thus will celebrate delivering on those promises. Some members of her conservative party, Venter, stayed at arms’ length. When Jan Jørgensen, a member of Danish parliament, was asked if he would eat a piece of the cake, he responded ““I’m on a diet.”
Støjberg has been no stranger to controversy. In 2016, she claimed a daycare center banned pork from kids’ lunches in the name of multiculturalism, which a local media investigation found to be plainly false. In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, Støjberg led a campaign to promote Danish anti-immigration laws, which included advertisements in Lebanese newspapers instructing refugees to stay away.