IMMIGRANTS IN THE NETHERLANDS SHOULD KEEP OWN CULTURAL IDENTITY
Last Friday, the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) in the Netherlands published their long awaited report on the integration of foreign immigrants in the Netherlands. The Council, a high-profile think-tank and advisory committee to the Dutch government, underlined the importance for new-comers to keep their own cultural and religious identity.
The report “Identification with the Netherlands” stresses that “in a changing society such as the Netherlands, people can have multiple loyalties which should not be a problem to feel connected with the Netherlands”. And, “migrants need not choose between their country of origin and other loyalties, which would make that migrants and their children will feel not at home in the Netherlands”. With their report, the WRR Council wishes to emphasize that people can feel connected with multiple different groups and that the intensity of these connections may vary in time. Importantly, says the Council, people cannot deny their footprint, which includes their country of origin. ‘A person who is not forced to deny his footprint will find it easier to make new connections and to feel Dutch.”
The report comes at a crucial point in time in Netherlands, historically known for its tolerance towards immigrants. In recently years, one could witness a growing hostility towards foreigners and the emergence of extreme right political groups pushing xenophobic and anti-Islamist agendas. The multicultural society for which the Dutch had always prided themselves had in fact recently been declared dead. The new WRR report now urges the Dutch to resume their tolerant attitude: “The problem is not so much about integration, but rather about living together.”