"Netherlands as shining example of integration"

15th January 2008, Comments 2 comments

Danish mayor Jakob Hougaard says Dutch integration should serve as an example for the rest of Europe.

15 January 2008

AMSTERDAM – Dutch integration should serve as an example for the rest of Europe. If it were up to Danish mayor Jakob Hougaard, more European leaders would visit Amsterdam in future to learn from the Dutch approach to integration issues.

Hougaard met with Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen on Monday and talked with policymakers in Amsterdam and Rotterdam to hear how the Netherlands has succeeded in regaining a balance between the various population groups after the murder of Theo van Gogh.

Hougaard praised in particular the approach to so-called ‘hotspots' in Amsterdam, areas in the city where there is a lot of crime and nuisance. "You are very good at communicating here in the Netherlands," says Hougaard, who is in charge of the integration portfolio in Copenhagen.

"It took a long time after the cartoon riots before a dialogue between the various population groups could be fostered in Denmark. We were very afraid that that we would be kicking Muslims in the shins by explaining to them that freedom of expression is very important to western society."

He praised the way dialogue with the Muslim community takes place in the Netherlands. "With campaigns like ‘We Amsterdam' Job Cohen managed to get everyone looking in the same direction." What Copenhagen succeeds at better, however, is in integrating the various cultures in education. "In that respect you could learn a lot from Denmark," says Hougaard.

"In Copenhagen we do not have any black or white schools, as is still the case in the Netherlands. You have to attack these problems at the root; mixed schools teach children early on how positive it is to live with all religious and ethnic groups in harmony."

The Danish city politician also praised the approach to problem neighbourhoods in Rotterdam. "The renovation and rebuilding of run down buildings there is exemplary," he said. Another Dutch measure that Copenhagen will certainly adopt is the preventative surveillance cameras in the Amsterdam city centre.

"That is something I am going to champion," he said. "The figures show indisputably that this kind of initiative works excellently as a preventative measure."

Hougaard hopes that Amsterdam representatives will soon honour Copenhagen with a visit. "I even think I'd like to expand the initiative to other European cities," he said. "The large cities are almost all struggling with the same problems. In this time of unification and uniformity it can only benefit us to listen to each other closely and be willing to learn from each other."

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2008]

Subject: Dutch news

2 Comments To This Article

  • ardmaigh posted:

    on 15th January 2008, 13:58:07 - Reply

    Sorry but this Danish Mayor is so full of contradictions he can't be taken seriously. He can praise dialogue as much as he cares to but then points out that probably the greatest barrier to integration - the lack of integrated schooling - is alive and kicking in Amsterdam (in NL as a whole) and states that a lesson could be taken from Copenhagen. So the positive aspects of dialogue still outweigh the negative aspect of a total lack of integrated schooling?

    Sorry Mr Hougaard, the Dutch may be expert in talking about things til everyone is blue in the face, but when was the last time they actually solved a problem?

    He should have looked a little deeper on his visit: I get the feeling he came here with a preconceived agenda and his comments are no more than PR claptrap.
  • historytechdoc posted:

    on 15th January 2008, 12:44:10 - Reply

    Danish mayor Jakob Hougaard's remarks are an encouraging sign that ethnic violence and disturbances in A'dam and R'dam are being taken seriously and managed in a modern and enlightened manner. Saying "Dutch integration should serve as an example for the rest of Europe' is quite a different matter, since I do not feel that what is taking place on the Dutch national scene is enlightened in any sense of the word.
    When polls indicate that Rita Verdonk is the second most popular political candidate in the NL and there are few others willing to stand up strongly in opposition to the rantings of Gerd Wilders, then I wonder really how well Mayor Hougard actually understands the underlying political climate of this country. I can not also forget that it was the very mayor of A'dam, Job Cohen, who promulgated the Dutch statute that Rita Verdonk so enthusiastically enforced.
    In addition, Mayor Hogard suggests that European mayors should visit other cities to compare policies, I then must ask: Is there no annual conference of European mayors dedicated to sharing city level policies and methods of dealing with the common problems that many if not most European cities are constantly concerned?" I believe in the United States they have been having a national converence of city majors for decades!
    As troubled and pitiful as the current national regime is in the U.S. at the national level, its city majors have understood since at least the 1960s that they can learn from one another and not to wait for its political nationals to take responsibility and help solve their city problems as appears to be the case here in the NL.