Wednesday, November 18, 2009

All citizens are equal, but.....

Yesterday the Dutch integration minister Van der Laan was quoted in the NRC newspaper on his "integration letter": "All citizens are equal but immigrants can be asked for an extra effort to obtain a place in Dutch society."

The integration minister was invited together with Paul Wilders ("Don't vote for my brother Geert") in Pauw and Witteman (late evening show) to discuss his views on integration in the context of local elections in Venlo (city of Geert Wilders). Dutch media and politics love to suggest Geert Wilders is the only consistent anti-immigrant politician in the country. The Balkenende government has consistently portrayed itself to be moderate on the subject of integration. Reality is much more complex.

The Dutch Labour Party, as most Dutch politicians, has embraced the views of Paul Scheffer who wrote articles and a book on the "multicultural disaster". As a result the objective of integration policy for most Dutch political parties has become to limit the "import of backlog". Immigrants are consistently portrayed as a burden on society by all ruling political parties. On www.buitenlandsepartner.nl, a self help website for Dutch citizens with non-EU partners, the discussion today in parliament has been followed with growing disappointment. Even supposedly immigrant friendly politicians from the Dutch Greens, GroenLinks, supported those proposals.

Art 1., a national association against discrimination on all grounds has written that the proposal by the Dutch government are against international treaties. It strongly condemns the consistent negative stereotyping of immigrants by the Dutch government when it states that "the starting point of every immigrant is a lack of referential structure and a flawed values system" (You got a better translation?).

The official Dutch Moroccan immigrant organisation has allready stated publicly through it's chairperson, Farid Azarkan, to initiate jucidial procedings against the Dutch government if it will proceed with the proposals of Van der Laan to make it even more difficult for immigrants to join their family in the Netherlands. The "Samenwerkingsverband van Marokaanse Nederlanders" spokesperson said: "We are ready to startup jucidial procedings up to the highest level (EU court of human rights) and we will support cases of individuals that are affected by these proposals".

When Dutch media write that Van der laan is concerned with both sides in this proposal they portray Balkenende's government as moderate. They argue that he listens both to the people that live in the poor neighbourhoods that deal with the supposedly "multicultural disaster" on a daily basis AND to the immigrants (consistentlty labeled non-western) that "feel more and more like second class citizens" (Minister of integration).

I would love to know on what basis they build this suggestion, when we read that at least 25 immigrant organisations are ready to start long court battles. When we read on selfhelp sites like www.buitenlandsepartner.nl and www.rechtopgezinshereniging.nl that thousands of immigrants are fighting the consistent violation of fundamental right to family life of EU citizens by Dutch immigration services. When we read of the consistent negative stereotyping of immigrants by the Dutch minister of integration you got to be blind or thoroughly prejudiced.

Paul Wilders, brother of, had the best explanation for the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in Dutch society. He explained that the Dutch political system has thoroughly changed over the last 50 years. Before citizens were organized through pillars (catholics, protestants, socialists), which today is no longer the case. This creates an identity crisis, a void, which is filled by fear mongers.

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