Holland ‘s 30-year experiment in trying to create a tolerant, multicultural society has failed and led to ethnic ghettos and sink schools, according to an official parliamentary report.
Between 70 and 80 per cent of Dutch-born members of immigrant families import their spouse from their “home” country, mostly Turkey or Morocco, perpetuating a fast-growing Muslim subculture in large cities.
The 2,500-page all-party report by the Dutch parliament was the establishment’s tentative answer to the critique of Pim Fortuyn, the shaven-headed firebrand who warned that Holland’s easy-going way of life was threatened by militant Islam and over-crowding. He was assassinated by an environmental activist two years ago.
While the report praised most immigrants for assimilating and for doing well at school, it attacked successive governments for stoking ethnic separatism.
The worst mistake was to encourage children to speak Turkish, Arabic or Berber in primary schools rather than Dutch. The report concluded that Holland’s 850,000 Muslims must become Dutch if the country was to hold together. It proposes cheap housing in the leafy suburbs to help ethnic groups assimilate with the rest of the 16 million population.
The major parties in the centre-Right government dismissed such solutions as insufficient. Maxime Verhagen, the Christian Democrat leader in parliament, said one had to be “either naive or ignorant” not to understand that the policy had led the country into a cul-de-sac.
He said: “Immigrants in the Netherlands top the ‘wrong’ lists – disability benefit, unemployment assistance, domestic violence, criminality statistics and school and learning difficulties.”
For years Holland was seen as a glowing example of multi-ethnic tolerance, making huge efforts to make immigrants feel at home. Funding was provided for ethnic diversity projects, including 700 Islamic clubs that are often run by hard-line clerics.
The simmering resentments erupted two years ago when Mr Fortuyn gave voice to an increasingly fearful majority. The European Union’s Racism and Xenophobia Monitoring Centre has catalogued a rash of anti-Muslim attacks, leaving girls too frightened to go out wearing head scarves.
The violence has taken a more ominous turn since the September 11 attacks. The Dutch intelligence service, AIVD, has warned that the al-Qa’eda network is “stealthily taking root in Dutch society” by preying on disaffected Muslim youth with Jihad video cassettes circulating in mosques, cafes and prisons.
Rotterdam has announced measures to deter more poor immigrants and is closing its gates to new asylum seekers for four years.