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THE HAGUE, NIS NEWS 06/12/08 – Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan has made it clear in a Lower House debate that he intends to pursue a different course from his ousted predecessor Ella Vogelaar. The new minister said integration is in “a phase of conflict”. And he plans to stop the subsidy to the Marokko.nl website.
* Note the whiny, apologetic tone of this writer:
After a period in which immigrants experienced distress on leaving their country, there is now anger both among them and among the white population. Immigrants sometimes feel driven into a corner, while the Dutch feel the same, because, for example, their women are called names on the street and homosexuals discriminated against, was the tenor of the views outlined by Van der Laan. “Integration is in the phase of conflict,” as he summarised it.
Attempting to remove the impression that integration was not going well was the core business of Vogelaar. She had to resign last month after Labour (PvdA) lost confidence in her, replacing her with the relatively unknown Van der Laan. He was presented as the man who would combine the soft with the tough approach.
It appears that PvdA is indeed seeking a new course. Van der Laan indicated in the debate he was “shocked” by the Marokko.nl website. The site is subsidised by the government, but the minister wants to stop this. “I do not want to make any contribution to a site where such inflammatory texts appear.”
Van der Laan was referring to texts such as “May Allah reward these heroes with paradise.” This appeared on Marokko.nl following the recent attacks in Mumbai. Earlier, similar texts appeared after two Dutch soldiers were killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Marokko Media, publisher of the much-visited Marokko.nl, received a 138,000 euro subsidy from the government’s Encouragement Fund for the Press for the site. The Party for Freedom (PVV) earlier unsuccessfully asked Vogelaar and Media Minister Ronald Plasterk (also PvdA) to close the subsidy tap for the “hate site”.’
Van der Laan does now appear likely to take action, though he did keep his options open. He is launching an investigation, expected to be completed in a few weeks. “But I do not want to make any contribution to a site where such inflammatory texts appear,” the minister already said.
The PvdA minister was also positively inclined towards Christian democratic (CDA) proposals for tightening up the requirements for ‘imported brides.’ Marriage migrants could then only come to the Netherlands if they have at least completed a vocational education course and speak Dutch or English, according to one of many CDA proposals. Van der Laan said most CDA proposals “appeal” to him but he did not yet go into them in detail.
Despite the “phase of conflict” that Van der Laan seemed to deem unavoidable for integration to get further, he is optimistic about integration, among other reasons due to falling unemployment among immigrants and the better figures they are achieving at school. According to the minister, “the key to integration lies with language and upbringing.”
* Mo $$$ for Â Muzz:
Meanwhile, Education State Secretary Marja van Bijsterveldt (CDA) is earmarking 50 million euros for better language and arithmetic teaching in secondary vocational education (MBO). About 30 percent of youngsters leave MBO annually without speaking and writing sufficient Dutch to have a chance for a job, according to Van Bijsterveldt. The money comes from the funds for language courses for older immigrants, left over because these courses attracted few participants this year and last.