- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

BRUSSELS — Under a government proposal, largely Third World people applying to live in the Netherlands will have to take an examination to prove they understand the language and culture.

The test will require 350 hours of study and cost $468.

A video designed to capture the essence of Dutch life would be sent to applicants in their home countries. The video offers images of windmills, tulips, a description of the flag and a brief biography of William of Orange. As an early warning of the liberal mores, it also shows topless women sunbathing and a homosexual wedding.

It is the latest sign of the growing hard line on immigration after decades in which the Netherlands has been one of Europe’s most tolerant nations.

Murders and death threats from Muslim extremists in the country have been matched by rising assaults on immigrants and arson attacks on mosques.

There are now nearly a million Muslims in the Netherlands, or 6 percent of the population.

Announcing the proposals in parliament late Thursday, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said the test would not be required for European Union citizens or people from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand or Japan. Female victims of human trafficking would also be exempt.

The test would be obligatory for all others hoping to live in the country, commonly by marrying a Dutch citizen or by joining family members already there. The video says Holland is “a small country with 16 million inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated in the world.” Immigrants play an important role but protests against their numbers are mounting, it points out.

The language part of the test would be computerized and taken by telephone. Applicants would be asked to repeat recorded phrases then answer simple questions in Dutch, such as: “How many wheels does a car have?” Knowledge of Dutch culture would be tested in separate sessions organized by embassies.

It is expected that about 14,000 candidates, mostly from Turkey, Morocco and Surinam, will take the test each year under the proposed Newcomers’ Integration Act, which must first be approved by parliament.


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