Saturday, March 21, 2009

Multiculturalisme in the Netherlands; a fact or a dream?

Five years since the Islamist murder of film maker Theo van Gogh, seven years after the assassination of anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn, explosive and complex questions of identity still tear at the heart of Dutch politics. Last year, for example, the Dutch has seen a heated dispute over dual nationality. The right-wing politician Geert Wilders insists that anyone with two passports has divided loyalties and must be banned from public office.
Meanwhile, even Princess Maxima, the Argentinian-born wife of the Dutch crown prince, has entered the fray. She says that after seven years in the country she has failed to discover a Dutch identity.
The Netherlands used to be seen as the most enlightened and enthusiastically multicultural country in Europe. Now the country - like others in Western Europe - is suffering an identity crisis. Multiculturalism itself has become discredited.

Critics say it created conflict by encouraging minorities to separate from mainstream society. The new buzz word is 'integration'. While the relationship between Dutch Muslims and the rest of Dutch society remains uneasy, new 'integrationist' policies emphasise the importance of the Dutch language and the centrality of democracy and liberal values such as women's and gay rights.
So did the old Dutch model fail? Is a new one emerging and should minorities be obliged to adopt Dutch values, as immigrants in the United States become American?

Day opening - March 21

'Spring time'
Photography by Belgin Zeytin.
The next week, every day a new photo of her here!