Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 31 March 2009

31st March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Integration requirements create confusion
In an effort to help immigrants integrate into Dutch society, newcomers are required to take special courses on Dutch language, society and culture.

Those who take the integration course are required to provide up to 30 signatures to prove that that they are capable of Dealing with crucial real-life situations.

De Volkskrant reports on how the requirement of 30 signatures has led to amusing situations.

As most municipal officials were not informed about this course requirement – or have enough other work to do – the course participants are often met with curious glares or are sent away.

Another woman went to a police station to report that her bicycle was “stolen”. Despite explaining her intention to get a signature, the officer on duty refused to help her. She was later helped by his superior and was made to describe the model of the bicycle and sent home to look for the serial number of her “stolen” bicycle.

Another woman went to the town hall to report the birth of a baby girl. She did so well in dealing with Crucial Real-life Situations that a child benefit allowance was deposited on her bank account.

Other participants find themselves trapped in a web of Kafkaesque bureaucracy as they attempt to meet the course's requirements.

"A Ukrainian woman marries a Dutch man and comes to live here. Her driver's licence is no longer valid, so she takes a driving test and passes. Six months later she takes the required integration course. Before she can take the exams she must demonstrate that she is capable of coping with practical situations in Dutch. Passing a driving test is not sufficient proof."

The organisation behind the integration exams needs forms with signatures. A driving license is not accepted. The woman had to go to the office which gave her the licence and asked for a signature saying that she had taken a test for the licence.

Netherlands hit by increase in aggression in public transport sector
The recent explosive growth in violence against public transport workers such as ticket collectors and bus drivers is reported in nearly all papers on Tuesday.

Drivers say that the frequent delays in arrival and departures and conflicts over checking bus tickets are the most common causes of aggressive behaviour.

In just 12 days in March, 289 incidents of aggression have been documented by the FNV trade union federation, reports De Telegraaf.

De Volkskrant writes that more than 40 percent of bus drivers do not report incidents.

The FNV attributes the increased aggression to the privatisation of public transport and the concurrent cutbacks in spending on safety. It is demanding cameras in all buses, realistic schedules and an emergency alarm in the bus which works (more than a third of drivers say their alarm buttons are broken).

Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst and Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings will meet this week to discuss taking additional measures to ensure the security of public transport employees.

Wilders for mayor
Free newspaper De Pers says cabinet sources have confirmed that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has been pressuring the Den Helder city council to propose the leader of the populist Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, as candidate for mayor.

In the Netherlands mayors are not elected but appointed by the government. The paper writes that this would give The Hague a chance of getting rid of Wilders, who poses an electoral danger - according to the latest opinion polls.

De Pers writes that this would allow Wilders, who is constantly surrounded by bodyguards, a chance to live a more peaceful life.

According to the paper, Wilders fears meeting the same fate as former populist leader Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated in 2002, days before the parliamentary elections.

Dating in the dark show to appear on TV
Metro writes about a show that will appear on Dutch television next week: Dating in the Dark. Three male and three female participants will live separately in a villa, and will meet in the dark.

In the room, the participants will only be able to get to know members of the opposite sex by talking to them, touching and smelling.

After a number of group dates they will meet each other in the light, when they will compare their impressions.

One participant commented: "I tend to be attracted by outward appearances and participating in the show has confirmed this. I liked my date's inner nature, but when I saw him in the light I wasn't impressed."

However, she did not know what to make of her date's comments. "He said I wasn't ugly. That isn't really a compliment?" 

Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica

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