Integration minister Ella Vogelaar launched a strong attack on anti-immigration politicians such as Geert Wilders, Rita Verdonk and the Liberal (VVD) Henk Kamp on Tuesday evening, saying they were all involved in a contest who see who be could be toughest.
‘I will not join in the muscle flexing,’ Labour minister Vogelaar said. ‘It is not in the interests of the public.’
Vogelaar made the comments during the presentation of her plans to increase the integration of ethnic minorities into Dutch society. She said she is extremely concerned at the widening gulf between native Dutch people and immigrants.
According to the latest figures from the government’s social policy unit SCP, some 11% of the Dutch population is made up of non-western immigrants, but 42% of them were born in the Netherlands.
On the one hand, native Dutch people are worried about the increasing visibility of Islam which they find threatening. But on the other hand, non-western immigrants are not accepted as ordinary citizens, she said. ‘We want to end this polarisation,’ the minister told MPs.
Vogelaar’s 56-point programme, a combination of old and new initiatives, focusses on stimulating ‘active citizenship’.
Everyone is expected to do their best to carve out their own role in society, learn the Dutch language, get an education, earn money and take responsibility for raising their children, the report says.
The programme calls for a simplification of the rules relating to compulsory citizenship classes and the creation of more schools where children with a broad spectrum of abilities are accepted.
There will also be more emphasis on citizenship in schools and action to combat racisim, discrimination, polarisation and radicalism.
The SCP report says 45% of the Dutch population think there are too many immigrants in the Netherlands, as do 58% of people of Turkish origin and 33% of Moroccans.
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