Dutch minister wants to link crime and ethnicity
17 September 2008
THE HAGUE — Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has proposed allowing police and judicial authorities to register the ethnic background of criminals.
In an interview with the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, the minister said the police and Public Prosecutor’s Office should be able to report the ethnic background of suspects.
At the moment, the Netherlands only registers the nationality or the birthplace of suspects, but the children of immigrants are "invisible" as far as background is concerned.
Trouw reports that linking crime and ethnicity is extremely controversial as it allegedly stigmatises foreigners and second and third generation Dutch nationals.
Ter Horst said she does not believe that this would stigmatise certain ethnic groups, nor should it be seen in a negative light. "I remember that when I did research in dentistry in the 1970s we ascertained that Turkish and Moroccan children had many more cavities. We then thought up a questionnaire. It wasn’t allowed. It was discriminatory because it was directed at a certain group. That’s terrible, isn’t it?"
"If you want to solve a problem you have to know who is causing it. And if in Amsterdam it’s mostly Moroccans, then you have to give it a name. Otherwise you lose information. Moreover, you can also get the Moroccan community involved."
She said the registration should be seen as "a neutral target group analysis".
The Social and Cultural Planning Office, which is currently studying the need for registration according to ethnic background, will report in December to Integration Ella Vogelaar on the advisability of the idea.
On Wednesday morning, the website GeenStijl (meaning "no style" or poor taste) had 169 reactions to the minister’s comments. The website is known as insulting and right-wing and is often full of racist comments. Though most reactions insulted foreigners and Moroccans in particular, some were sarcastic and opposed the minister’s proposal.
In a commentary entitled "We are going to measure skulls again!" (the Nazis believed that Aryans had different-shaped and superior skulls), the writer makes fun of a Labour minister putting forward a proposal which until recently would have been considered typical of the far right.
Other responses suggested that people be registered according to their political preference.
One asked why the minister wants to register people with Dutch passports as Moroccans and Turks.
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]