In Holland she is known as the Iron Lady, a former prison governor who is behind Europe’s most dramatic experiment in managing mass immigration—the concept of “compulsory integration”.
Rita Verdonk, the Dutch immigration minister, has no doubt that her country has a right and a duty to ask new immigrants to learn its language and to adapt to “Dutchness”.
From July, would-be newcomers over 17 will have to pass examinations requiring a basic knowledge of the language, history and culture of Holland. Those from within the European Union are exempt.
In preparation, immigrants must watch a video showing not only windmills, tulips and ancient cities, but also homosexual weddings and examples of Holland’s liberal mores and tolerance of drugs.
The video is so liberal that a “clean” version has been produced for Islamic countries with the scenes of two homosexual bridegrooms kissing and a topless beach excised.
Mrs Verdonk told The Daily Telegraph that multiculturalism in Holland had not been a mistake but added: “What wasn’t good was that we were naive for a long while. We thought that everybody who wanted to live in the Netherlands would easily find his way around Dutch society. Now we have about 700,000 people who have been here for years but who don’t speak the language or have a clue about our most basic rules and values.”
She has vowed to deport thousands of failed asylum seekers who have exhausted their appeals and, under her reign, the number of asylum applications has plunged.
However, the level of applications for “family reunification”, including visas for new brides, remains at 25,000 to 30,000 a year and is of concern.
As a proud feminist, Mrs Verdonk plans to curb the tide of young brides shipped straight from Turkey or Morocco to marry into closed immigrant communities. “These are often young females, who are not allowed to get out on to the street, who do not get the same chances as Dutch women,” she said.
“We Dutch women fought for equal rights. What I will not allow, and will do my utmost to prevent, is going back to the time when women were inferior to men.”
Compulsory integration, she believes, imposes duties in two directions.
“It is a mutual thing. The native Dutch should give newcomers a fair chance and be open to them.
“But we are also convinced that we can make demands of those coming here.”