Jun 17 2012, 12:09 PM
I'm Dutch, and also an immigration coach. That means that I help an immigrant to enter Dutch society, and he is a Muslim from the Middle East (Iraqi refugee).
I've volunteered for two reasons: to serve my community and to understand the Dutch immigration problem.
What you need to understand is that Holland has always been a very tolerant country. One famous example of this is the story of Spinoza. However, society then and now are different, there is more individualization and social responsibilities of the community or the church have been institutionalized into the government. This also means that an immigrant needs to be able to participate in this environment. And for this we now hold the immigrant responsible and there is an exam in which they need to proof themselves. This includes being able to read and write in Dutch at a basic level, know basic values (like woman have equal rights) and understand what a bank, the police, energy supplier etc. does. I think this is a good way forward, if you get the right to live here, you get the responsibility to adapt. Because why would I adapt?
Unfortunately, reality is less simple. I've spoken with immigrants that have been tortured and/or traumatized in their home country. Sometimes they left family back there and don't know if they are alive. These things make picking up a new life and learning to adapt in a strange world very difficult. I think that we also have a moral responsibility to help the people when they can't carry the responsibility on their own.
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