Pakistanis in Denmark

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Pakistanis in Denmark
Total population
(22,608 (Apr. 2013)[1])
Regions with significant populations
Copenhagen and surroundings (especially Ishøj)[2]
Urdu, Punjabi, and other languages of Pakistan; Danish[3]
Sunni Islam[4] Minority Ahmadiyya Islam
Related ethnic groups
Pakistani diaspora

Pakistanis in Denmark form the country's fifth largest community of migrants and descendants from a non-Western country, with 12,765 migrants and 9,903 locally born people of Pakistani descent as of October 2013.[1]

Migration history[edit]

The earliest Pakistani migrants came to Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s as migrant workers, a large portion from Punjab, in particular Kharian and nearby regions, as it is in Norway as well. Though the Danish government restricted labour migration in 1973, the Pakistani community continued to grow, largely through family reunification and transnational marriages.[5] The spouses in these transnational marriages came largely from Pakistan, but roughly 3,000 were drawn from among the community of British Pakistanis as well.[6] Beginning in the 1990s, the Danish People's Party and the Social Democrats began to call for restrictions on family reunification in order to control the growth of immigrant communities.[5] Among other restrictions included new laws introduced in the early 2000 which require that both parties to transnational marriages be at least 24 years of age, that they must live in their own accommodation of at least twenty m2
per person and no more than two persons per room, and that the Denmark-resident applicant for a transnational marriage must have a gross income of kr 8,986.[7] In response to the newly tightened migration requirements, more than a thousand Pakistanis from Denmark established residence in Swedish border city of Malmö (on the strength of European Union laws on freedom of movement for workers) and applied for family reunification there, taking advantage of the laxity of the Swedish laws in this regard. Most returned to Denmark after the process was complete.[8] One of the more visible signs of this is the increasing number of cars with Swedish license plates in the Copenhagen suburb of Ishøj.[2]


Denmark's oldest mosque, opened in Hvidovre in 1967, is operated by the Pakistan-based Ahmadiyya denomination

Most Pakistanis in Denmark are Muslims. Like in other communities, a number of different movements are found, such as the Sunni Hanafi Barelwi movement is represented by the Muslim Institute in Copenhagen, while the Minhaj-ul-Quran movement has its head office in northwest Nørrebro[citation needed] and also maintains a presence in Amager, Ishøj, Gladsaxe, and Lyngby-Taarbæk.[4] 43% regularly attend prayers at a mosque, the highest among immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and nearly double the average.[9]

Pakistanis in Denmark have set up a number of religious schools. Of the fourteen Muslim schools in Denmark as of 1995, the majority are run by either Pakistanis or Arabs. Denmark has the highest percentage of privately run, publicly funded Muslim schools in Europe however, the presence of independent Muslim schools has drawn debate and criticism from members of the Danish public.[10]

Like other European countries, Denmark also has a minor presence of followers of the Ahmadiyya, a heterodox sect formed during British colonial rule. The first full translation of the meanings of the Qur'an into Danish was performed by an Ahmadiyya convert.[11] They also have their own place of worship in Copenhagen.[citation needed]


From the 1970s to the 1990s, it was common for Pakistani migrants in Denmark to use their family social networks back in Pakistan to arrange marriages for their children. Such marriages were often negatively portrayed as "forced marriages" in Danish media, especially in the case of cousin marriages.[12] However, with tightened requirements on transnational marriages, the number of marriages between Pakistanis in Denmark has increased instead. The proportion of such marriages doubled from 20% to 40% between 1989 and 2003.[13] Common Pakistani marriage practises continued among migrants in Denmark with children marrying in their late teens or early twenties (especially for women) and newlyweds continuing to live with the groom's parents.[7] Among the Pakistani youth between the ages of 17 and 27 years, 31% were either married or engaged, about average for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. However, only 10% had girlfriends or boyfriends.[3] Disagreement about marriage is often a source of intergenerational conflict. Of Pakistani youths with girlfriends or boyfriends, only 31% report that their parents accept their choice.[14] Even parents who accept their children choosing their own spouses generally maintain an expectation of ethnic endogamy.[15] In one widely publicised case in 2006, a 19-year-old girl was killed because her father and brothers disapproved of her choice of spouse.[16][17][18] In general, though, attitudes towards marriage show a trend of liberalisation, with parents and their children continuing to expand their boundaries of who is or is not an acceptable marriage partner. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the divorce rate has also been growing.[19]


2003 statistics on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries in Denmark found that Pakistanis had the lowest unemployment rate out of all groups surveyed, at 6.8%.[20] 47% are members of trade unions.[20]


Pakistanis in Denmark were served by six Urdu-language publications as of 2008: Tarjumaan International, a magazine for Asian Community in Europe promoting peace, harmony and mutual interaction among world communities, Al Djihad, a magazine about Islamic and social activities published by Ahmediya Mosque. Binat-e-Islam by Minhaj-ul-Quran, a magazine aimed at young Muslim women. Shaheen, Tanzeem, and Waqar magazines focused on Pakistani culture and politics published on a monthly or bimonthly basis, and Etnica, a multilingual journal which covers immigrant issues and politics in Denmark.[6]


Many Pakistanis in Denmark suffer from vitamin D deficiency. 21% of women and 34% of men have osteopenia.[21] Rates of veiling and staying indoors have been suggested as a reason for vitamin D deficiency.[22]

Notable people[edit]

Naveed Awan, Business & employment advisor, Copenhagen Municipality



  1. ^ a b Danmarks Statistik, Statistikbanken, October 2010, retrieved 2011-01-30 
  2. ^ a b Rytter 2004, p. 16
  3. ^ a b Rashmi 2006, p. 81
  4. ^ a b Svanberg 1999, p. 389
  5. ^ a b Rytter 2004, p. 5
  6. ^ a b Hussain 2001, p. 6
  7. ^ a b Rytter 2004, pp. 12–13
  8. ^ Rytter 2004, p. 15
  9. ^ Goli & Rezaei 2005, p. 32
  10. ^ Svanberg 1999, p. 399
  11. ^ Svanberg 1999, pp. 392–393
  12. ^ Rytter 2003, Hvad er et arrangeret ægteskab?
  13. ^ Rytter 2004, p. 17
  14. ^ Rashmi 2006, p. 83
  15. ^ Rytter 2003, Hvad nu hvis man selv finder en pige?
  16. ^ "Nine Pakistanis face trial in Denmark", Dawn, Pakistan, 2006-05-16, retrieved 2008-11-19 
  17. ^ "9 convicted in honour killing", Dawn, 2006-06-28, retrieved 2008-11-19 
  18. ^ "Danish court sentences nine Pakistanis", Dawn, 2006-06-29, retrieved 2008-11-19 
  19. ^ Rytter 2003, Er vi i grunden så forskellige?
  20. ^ a b Goli & Rezaei 2005, p. 9
  21. ^ Andersen et al. 2008
  22. ^ Holvik et al. 2005
  23. ^ Goli & Rezaei 2005, p. 38
  24. ^ Nadeem Farooq, The Social Liberal Party, Folketinget, retrieved 2012-08-21 


Further reading[edit]

  • Baber, Siunder Ali (2007), Interplay of Citizenship, Education and Mathematics: Formation of Foregrounds of Pakistani Immigrants in Denmark (Ph.D. thesis ed.), Aalborg University 
  • Mehdi, Rubya (2004), "Danish Law and the Practice of mahr among Muslim Pakistanis in Denmark", International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 31 (2): 115–129, ISSN 0194-6595, doi:10.1016/j.ijsl.2003.02.002 
  • Mehdi, Rubya (May 2008), "Supernatural Means to Affect the Outcome of Family Disputes in Courts: The Case of Muslim Pakistanis in Denmark", in Mehdi, Rubya; Petersen, Hanne; Sand, Erik; et al., Law and Religion in Multicultural Societies, Djoef Publishing, ISBN 978-87-574-1843-9 

External links[edit]