Anthony Browne, Times (London), Mar. 25
SCENES of nude sunbathing, gay men kissing and a 1960s pop concert have been edited out of a public information video about Dutch society to prevent would-be immigrants falling foul of anti-obscenity laws in their own countries.
The 105-minute video is on sale to people from the developing world who want to move to the Netherlands, to show what awaits them and to teach them about the culture.
From July would-be immigrants over the age of 17 will have to pass an “integration test” on Dutch language and culture in their home country before they are given a visa.
The law, passed this week, makes the Netherlands the only country to require would-be immigrants to pass a test before granting them entry.
It is part of a campaign to clamp down on immigration and preserve Dutch language and culture. About 14,000 people are expected to undergo the exams each year. People from the EU, Australia, Can-ada, the United States, New Zealand and Japan are exempt.
There is concern in the Netherlands that immigrants, particularly those from Islamic countries such as Turkey and Morocco, are failing to learn about Dutch society and are living in parallel communities without being able to speak the language.
The alarm was heightened after the murder last year of the iconoclastic Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in an apparent fundamentalist attack.
Under the new policy, people wanting to move to the Netherlands have to pass a 15-minute test on Dutch language and a half-hour test on Dutch culture in their home country before they are granted a visa.
The video is offered as an aid to familiarising candidates with Dutch life. The test costs €350. It is computerised, with voice recognition software testing people’s grasp of the language.
Because of concern about immigrants being intolerant of Dutch liberalism, the video covers gay marriages, topless beaches, women’s rights and drugs. However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry gave warning last week that the screening of some scenes could be judged a criminal offence in several Islamic countries, including Morocco, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
“Pictures of naked women, or bare arms or legs, or men kissing, are illegal in these countries,” a spokeswoman said. To avoid the problem, the Government has produced a non-offensive version. Rita Verdonk, the Immigration Minister, said: “We don’t want people to be prosecuted because they watched our video.”
In a separate development, a commission for the Dutch Health Department has advised that all girls in the Netherlands — not just Islamic ones — be checked by doctors for genital mutilation. About 50 cases of female circumcision emerge each year in the Netherlands but the Commission for the Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation says there are many more cases because the authorities are usually unaware that the abuse, which is a criminal offence, has taken place.