De Fabel van de Illegaal: Argumenten tegen de inburgeringsplicht. Inburgeren in Nederlandse mayonaise-cultuur? (foto: Pauline Krebbers)
Citizenship tests are currently the rage in Europe, with Germany, Austria, Britain and the Netherlands all revising the process by which foreigners are admitted or can become nationals. Leading the pack with an openly discriminatory policy against non-Western countries is "Liberal" Holland. W H Y has a look at some of the more illuminating details of the new "Coming to Netherlands" Civic Integration Tests.
The Civic Integration Abroad Act ...entered into force on 15 March 2006 and sets an additional condition for obtaining a regular temporary residence permit, namely that people must first have a basic knowledge of the Dutch language and Dutch society before they come to the Netherlands. This basic knowledge will be tested by taking an examination, the Basic Civic Integration Examination, in their country of residence. (justitie.nl) This means that if you are planning to stay longer than 3 months, the maximum permissable stay as a tourist, you better know that before you get here. No coming by, smoking a few joints and seeing if you might like to stay here. Another clear indication that the rhetoric of mobility in the global village is not something that any government really wants. And don't forget: Apartheid is a Dutch word. So who are the rules really for?
Some 14,000 applicants, mainly from Turkey, Morocco and Surinam, are expected to sit the test each year. The Netherlands, which already has a strict immigration policy, hopes to cut down on so-called 'import brides' (BBC) No surprise that it is the Islamophobia (formerly sold as "multiculturalism") propagated by the populist Dutch politicians that founds the Act. Exempted from the examinations, at first glance, are (white) foreign nationals of the EU and North America... and naturally employees of transnational corporations who can buy their way out of it. But, the fine print at the bottom of this government site also states that as newcomers these people will, however, usually be required to follow the integration programme once in the Netherlands. (IND)
The Dutch Civic Integration test is also a misnomer to refer to the process as a "test," as it really consists of at least three "pre-tests" conducted over the phone before the applicant can then apply at the Dutch embassy in his or her country to register for the actual, hour-long immigration exam on geographical, historical and language issues. (Deutsche Welle)
Speaking on the telephone with (the often-unfriendly) government bureaucrats in your native langauge is often already a foreign affair. But it gets even more Kafka-esque. Canadian blogger in Rotterdam Miss Bad Penny explains that ...an automatic speech recognition system would carry out the exam, to be exact. In other words, the computer would decide whether the candidate can use everyday Dutch language and speak fluently enough. If the computer detects mistakes in your Dutch pronunciation, your application could be refused then and there. I think the candidates should first find out what kind of accent the computer speaks with. It would be such a pity if you speak fluent Dordt but fail because the computer speaks fluent Amsterdam... After some 3 or 4 years of "street" usage of the Dutch language (something hard to practice since most of the talented Dutch quickly respond to your inevitably accent-ridden question in 4 different languages), a practiced foreigner is at best lucky to be confused with being a Belgian. Say 'Scheveningen'...
"Those who have dutifully completed their preparation tests should know for example, that nude bathing is legal in the Netherlands, and that "Pindakaas" is not a kind of cheese, but rather peanut butter. The test costs a hefty 350 euros ($420), not including the preparation packet (63 euros) and DVD meant to make immigrants ready for life in the tolerant Netherlands..." (Deutsche Welle)
Coming to the Netherlands : The Film
As an initiative of the Minister of Integration Rita Verdonk, a required part of the "Dutch-Test" is the 105 minute long film "Coming to the Netherlands" which explicitly addresses themes related to sex and the body. In one case, the camera zooms in on men kissing each other, in another, it focuses on a topless woman sunbathing. "Sex" in Dutch society is more/also an S&M dungeon put in practical application. Police can unwarrantedly control your ID and frisk you at any time on the street. Houses are designed as fortresses to securely cage people away from interaction with each other. A comprehensive web of security cameras monitors your every movement in every waiting line where you must obediently take a number for everything... OK, it is becoming this way all over Europe... The sense of the film is to make sure if migrants really can become friends with the life in liberal Dutch society. (ORF) Note for potential migrants: What is called "liberal" in Dutch society is called "conservative" in other countries.
The film shows you how people live in the Netherlands. In the film, a friendly guide tells you about Dutch society. You will be given information about living in the Netherlands and about Dutch politics, work, education and healthcare. You will also be told a bit about the history of the Netherlands. (Naar Nederland)
Sample test question: What color was William of Orange?
...In spite of the inevitable educational function/value, the film also has something a bit bizarre. Themes such as geography, living, working, the constitution, homeland history and parliamentary democracy are handled in high tempo by the ever-fresh lipsticked presentor Julika Marijn. She shows animation films, makes mini-reportages on location and gives the word to those with professional experience: foreigners living in the Netherlands. It is cold and chilly here, says one in the beginning of the film. It is not like Yippee, come on over! here The Dutch have very little patience says another. This sets the tone. The film brings over a clear, not-sugary (bitter-sweet) message: in the Netherlands, integration is hard work. It is the intention in the Netherlands that everyone works. Man and woman. says Marijn. (NRC Handelsblad)
In some countries, it is against the law to be in the possession of films with images of this nature. Because of this, a special film has been made for these countries. In this film, the prohibited images have been deleted. This version of the film is called: the edited version. (Naar Nederland)
the petition for a reasonable integration policy
CAST (In order of appearance)
CIVIL INTEGRATION ABROAD ACT(NL/E)
NEWS: Dutch set immigrants culture test (E)
EN NATURALISATIE DIENST (NL/E)
Testing the Limits of Tolerance (D/E)
BAD PENNY BLOG: Smell a Rat (E)
NEWS: "In die Niederlande kommen" (D)
HANDELSBLAD: Leren leven in een koud en kil land vol overlast (NL)