Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dutch election and the Turkey factor

The Dutch tax department is allowed to send information in Turkish and many other languages, politicians may only use Dutch. And that has to stay so!
Can you distribute brochures in Turkish asking voters to elect a candidate of Turkish descent to the town council? Former Dutch minister for Integration van der Laan says it is not permissible because it goes against the principle that immigrants should become part of Dutch society. Some ethnic candidates disagree, saying their message will not reach many citizens.
Turkish and Chinese-language election campaign literature for the Dutch municipal elections tomorrow has sparked controversy in the Netherlands. As a result, a number of parties have banned further distribution of the flyers two weeks ago. Demissionair Minister Van der Laan says they sent “the wrong signal”. He says Turkish-language flyers contradict the process of integration and that the campaign should be conducted in Dutch only.
The Christian Democrat candidate of Turkish descent, Mahmut Yazici, distributed a bilingual flyer in Deventer, where some 3,000 first-generation Turks speak little or no Dutch after 40 years. The Christian Democrats have always distributed literature in both Dutch and Turkish according him.
"I always distribute bilingual folders with the same information in Dutch and Turkish. Otherwise, the older generation will have no idea of what I am saying. I want to get people to vote. I do it in Turkish so that my message is understood.”
He forget here to mention that candidates like him often tell a different story in Turks than in Dutch. And more important, he is manipulating potential voters…other parties don’t have flyers in Turkish so these potential voters don’t understand where they are voting for.
But H. Entzinger, a professor of migration and integration studies at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, finds the commotion lately about the flyers ambiguous and contradictory. Political parties make a lot of effort to get the immigrant vote. Four years ago, the Labour Party owed much of its success in Rotterdam to voters from the immigrant community. However two weeks ago the same party removed election posters praising a candidate in Turkish.
"Many times the vote of the immigrant community has been the decisive factor. And in spite of all the efforts made to integrate immigrants, there are still many older people who do not speak and understand Dutch that well,” says Professor Entzinger. “That is something we have inherited (from past and current policies) and with which we will have to live for a while. Recognise this. And don’t be so childish about it.”
Christian Democrat, Mahmut Yazici (a Muslim himself) pointed two weeks ago out that government authorities in the Netherlands use bilingual flyers. There are flyers from the tax authorities, against household violence and brochures from municipalities. Mr Yazici thinks the discussion has become absurd:
''During meetings of the town council I hear politicians use English words all the time. Even the alderman. They should stop doing this. For them English is not a problem, but Turkish is. If we are going to be fair, then everyone should speak correct Dutch.”
This is of course absurd. First of all the Dutch government don’t provide bilingual but multi lingual information on local and government level. Even in Portuguese, Chinese and Greek. Not only English. Secondly, the Dutch language is full of Anglicism, Germanic and Franco words, probably he is not aware of this. And btw the Turkish language is full of French words as well. And thirdly, Mr. Yazici is not representing a party but a group according ethnic lines, that of him. And lastly, the voters, all of them have the right to know what candidates are promising and Turkish is not a common language in the Netherlands neither in the world while in the world regarding knowledge of foreign language Holland scores with 3.6 foreign languages average no. 1). And there are more than 160 different nationalities living in the Netherlands. More than 10% of the citizens in Amsterdam are speaking English as their native language. And not one word of discomfort from them!
Shall we talk now about the annihilation and assimilation policies of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish republic of the last 400 years? Talking how Jews, Christians, Armenians, Greek Orthodox etc. are marginalized in their homelands? Ripped off their languages, cultural traditions, their possessions, their identities? No. I take a break.

Quotes on Amsterdam

“You don't love Amsterdam... Amsterdam loves you.”
~ Jesus on Amsterdam

“I went to Amsterdam and all I remember are Red Lights.”
~ Barack Obama on Amsterdam

“I had sex in Amsterdam”
~ Bill Gates on Amsterdam

“Amsterdam is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
~ Benjamin Franklin on Amsterdam

“I don't know what he was smoking when he said that, but it must have come from Amsterdam.”
~ Oscar Wilde on Benjamin Franklin

Day Opening - March 2

Tea house of Zeist Castle, Zeist, the Netherlands