Friday 07 October 2022

Scrap the A word, say Labour councillors in Amsterdam

Labour councillors in Amsterdam have called for the word allochtoon – literally non-native – to be scrapped from all official council paperwork.

Councillor Iman Akel told local television station AT5 the word has ‘no added value’ and the council should stop differentiating between native and non-native residents.
‘There is no such thing as the non-native,’ she said. ‘What are we talking about? The word has too much emotional value.’ Instead, council policy should focus on tackling problems such as obesity in children with a Turkish background, not stating ‘non-natives are fat’, she said.
Last week Belgian newspaper De Morgen decided to stop using the word because it is stigmatising.
Difficult issue
According to the Van Dale dictionary, allochtoon means migrant, foreigner or alien. However, the word is mainly used to describe non-western immigrants and their children. The third generation of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants are still known as allochtoon despite being born and brought up in Holland.
Politicians in the Netherlands have wrestled with the word for years, and there have been previous attempts to have it banned from official documentation.
In May, the cabinet’s advisory group on social development RMO said the government should stop categorising the population of the Netherlands according to ethnicity and parental birth places.
Concepts such as niet-westerse allochtoon (literally non-western non-native) should be scrapped. Instead local councils should only record the birth place of the person concerned, rather than that of their parents, the RMO said.
In January, integration minister Gerd Leers said children born in the Netherlands should no longer be regarded as foreign.
Is the word allochtoon useful or discriminatory? Have your say using the comment box below.

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