Monday, December 20, 2004

Tolerance tested in Holland - The Washington Times: World - December 20, 2004

Tolerance tested in Holland - The Washington Times: World - December 20, 2004

Said Mr. Wilders: "In the last 30 years, the Netherlands population has grown from 13 million to 16 million, about 25 percent, but the immigrant population has grown from 160,000 to 1.6 million — 1,000 percent. Ninety percent of our prison population is immigrants."

"[Immigrants] are the most dependent on our [welfare] schemes. They are non-Westerners and not speaking our language," he said.

"In the next [few] years, 75 percent of our population growth will be non-Western immigrants; only 8 percent will be native Dutch. This is fact, not opinion," he said, dismissing a somewhat different picture that emerges from official statistics posted on government Web sites.

For example, Netherlands' Central Statistical Office shows that about 50 percent, not 90 percent, of the prison population is foreign.

And Mr. Wilders' 1.6 million figure can only be reached by including second- and third-generation children of immigrants, who were born in Holland and are citizens — individuals who would never be considered foreign in the United States.

Nevertheless, the thrust of his argument is gospel for Dutch immigration reformers.


Meanwhile, the population of immigrants, their children and grandchildren is becoming politically active.

"I am not a guest in the Netherlands, and I will not act like a guest, asking permission in someone else's home to sit here or move the furniture there. I was born here. I am a citizen," said Nabil Marmouch, the Dutch-Moroccan head of the Netherlands' Arab-European League, a political action group that plans to field candidates in upcoming elections.

"[Muslims] have nothing to be ashamed of. We can be proud of our religion, our culture, our traditions. We do not have to assimilate or integrate. ... We do have to act like responsible citizens, obey the laws and get involved in the political process," Mr. Marmouch said.

Like other Muslim organizations, he condemned the killing of Mr. van Gogh, but dismissed Mr. Wilders' bodyguards as a "fashion statement" designed to create fear of Muslims and draw attention to his anti-immigration politics.

Some say that the real lesson of Mr. Fortuyn was "kill the heretic, adopt the heresy" as the mainstream parties, including the VVD, scrambled to adopt the Fortuyn prescriptions.

In the days after the van Gogh killing, Mr. Fortuyn was named one of the most important persons in Dutch history, outpolling Vincent van Gogh (of whose brother the slain filmmaker was the great-grandson) and Rembrandt, philosopher Desiderius Erasmus and Anne Frank, who was not Dutch, but a German asylum seeker.

"The VVD understood that you can win an enormous amount of votes playing the migration and integration card," said Rinus Penninx of the University of Amsterdam's Institute of Migration and Ethnic Studies.



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