20,000 sign petition on integration legislation
20 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — Almost 21,500 people have signed a petition against the controversial integration legislation drawn up by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.
20 June 2006
AMSTERDAM — Almost 21,500 people have signed a petition against the controversial integration legislation drawn up by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.
Campaign coordinator Mustafa Ayranci said on Tuesday that opponents of the bill believe it is discriminatory and they want parliament to remove the mandatory requirement to undertake an integration course and exam in the Dutch language and culture.
Ayranci said the campaign against the legislation is drawing support from all sections of the community in the Netherlands. "We are not against integration, but above all against the compulsion included in it."
Verdonk has brushed aside suggestions the legislation is discriminatory and would create two tiers of Dutch citizens. She proposes that all immigrants, aged from 16 to 65, should be required to pass an integration exam within five years. Even people granted Dutch citizen would be obliged to take the course and exam.
This would mean up to 260,000 people will have to take the course and sit the exam. Some groups will receive courses free of charge from their local authority. Others will have to pay for the courses, potentially costing them thousands of euros.
Ayranci said it is discrimination to place the duty and cost on immigrants but not on those native Dutch people who are illiterate. He also argued that the compulsory nature of the courses will not encourage immigrants to integrate into Dutch society.
Minority groups, he said, have been involved in organising language courses for 30 years, something that the government and the business community have been slow to emulate.
The petition was presented to the parliamentary commission on integration in The Hague on Wednesday. A Turkish choir sang the Dutch national anthem 'het Wilhelmus' during a rally outside.
Parliament is to resume a debate on the legislation on Wednesday. Last week MPs from the opposition and government parties indicated they too felt the plans are discriminatory.
Meanwhile, Ineke Bakker, general secretary of the Council of Churches, will present political parties in parliament on Wednesday with a petition signed by 100,000 people against the practice of locking children in detention centres for illegal immigrants.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news