David Rennie, Telegraph (London), Feb. 5
People applying to live in the Netherlands will have to take an examination to prove that they understand the language and culture, the government has proposed.
The test will require 350 hours of study and cost £250.
It is the latest sign of the growing hard line on immigration after decades in which Holland has been one of Europe’s most relaxed nations.
Murders and death threats from Muslim extremists have been matched by rising assaults on immigrants and arson attacks on mosques.
There are now nearly a million Muslims in the Netherlands, or six per cent of the population.
Announcing the proposals in parliament late on Thursday, the immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, said a video film designed to capture the essence of Dutch life would be sent to applicants in their home countries.
It offers images of windmills, tulips, a description of the flag and a brief biography of William of Orange. As an early warning of the liberal mores, it also shows topless women sunbathing and a homosexual wedding.
The test would not be required for European Union citizens or people from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. Female victims of people trafficking would also be exempt.
It would be obligatory for all other people hoping to live in the country, commonly by marrying a Dutch citizen or by joining family members already there. The film says Holland is “a small country with 16 million inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated in the world”. Immigrants play an important role but protests against their numbers are mounting, it adds.
The language part of the test would be computerised and taken by telephone. Applicants would be asked to repeat recorded phrases then answer simple questions in Dutch, such as: “How many wheels does a car have?”
Knowledge of Dutch culture would be tested in separate sessions organised by embassies.
It is expected that some 14,000 candidates, mostly from Turkey, Morocco and Suriname, will take the test each year under the proposed newcomers’ integration act, which must first be approved by parliament.
(Posted on February 8, 2005)
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