Sunday, March 19, 2006

To the Netherlands

The Dutch government has compiled a two-hour-long film to help potential immigrants, many of them from Islamic countries, meet the demands of a new entrance examination that went into effect on Wednesday.

In the exam, candidates must prove they can speak some Dutch and are at least aware of the Netherlands' liberal values, even if they do not agree with all of them.

What has generated the controversy is the film, which has scenes of nudity and two guys kissing, in a signal that such sights are common in the country and potential immigrants must be aware of them, "so that they are not shocked". The Netherlands recognizes same-sex marriages under law.

Muslim organisations in the country protested the move, calling the film offensive. They view it as an attempt by the government to discourage applicants from Islamic countries who may be offended by its content.

I don't see how such a move can be viewed as offensive. I would rather term it sensitive because it warns those seeking to come to the country of what they should expect. Since most Muslim immigrants come from closeted societies, it is reasonable to assume that they would find themselves out of place in an open one.

Incidentally, people from the US and EU do not have to take the test, and this has invoked further consternation among Muslim groups in Amsterdam. As a logical extension of the above argument, an American or European is unlikely to lose his cultural bearings in a permissive culture. It's a matter of mindsets. It would be impractical to question these assumptions under the guise of political correctness. Social background is an important criterion in deciding integration. This is true for all European countries.

In fact, it is the willful suspension of these realities that has promoted ghettoisation of communities. The inherent rage builds up gradually to finally explode in the kind of riots that Paris recently saw.

Republicanism backfires in France

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