Netherlands hard line on immigration

The Dutch government is proposing that people applying to live in The Netherlands will have to take an examination to prove that they understand the language and culture, before they get here.

Today’s Daily Telegraph carries a report on proposals that were announced in parliament on Thursday, where Rita Verdonk, the Minister for Integration and Immigration, said a video film designed to capture the essence of Dutch life would be sent to applicants in their home countries. The proposals were first announced by Minister Verdonk in December.

The Telegraph report said that it’s 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. The report said that the exam would not be required for citizens of other European Union countries, or for people from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. Female victims of people trafficking would also be exempt.

This is the latest sign of the growing government hard line on immigration following the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam last November.

Murders and death threats from Muslim extremists have been matched by rising assaults on immigrants and arson attacks on mosques, the Telegraph reported. There are now nearly a million Muslims in The Netherlands, or six per cent of the population, the Telegraph said.

It also comes at a time when more people are leaving The Netherlands than are arriving as migrants or asylum seekers.

Daily Telegraph | Dutch plan test aimed at curbing Muslim migrants (registration required)

A related development is that, for the first time, it’s now a legal requirement to carry identification at all times when out in public. This law came into effect on 1 January 2005.