How much of a threat does Dutch identity face?
In the Netherlands the debate about the country's culture being under threat is dominating the election campaign. Other candidates are now following the lead of the candidate of the anti-Islamic PVV, Geert Wilders, including the liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who keeps repeating that the people's concerns must be taken seriously. The press joins in the debate about the number one issue in the election campaign.
Immigration the big issue for voters
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte should be reaping the benefits of the economic upturn but the immigration debate is overshadowing all other issues in the Netherlands, Público explains:
“Rutte does indeed have reason to complain. His government has done an excellent job of managing the economy. But the issue that is really dividing the Dutch - who are used to prosperity - is the immigration debate. The truth is that Dutch from all social classes take a negative view of the predominantly Muslim immigrants (Moroccans, Turks and Indonesians) and see them as a threat to their social model and culture. … For their part the majority of Muslim immigrants aren't so easily integrated into the Dutch system of values. … Immigration isn't just at the centre of the current election campaign. It has dominated political debate since the year 2000.”
The fairy tale about the endangered Easter egg
Geert Wilders' claim that Muslims pose a threat to Easter and Christmas in the Netherlands is just downright absurd, columnist Bas Heijne writes in NRC Handelsblad:
“Negative omens surround the Dutch attitude to life. Foreigners want to take away all I have. Foreigners want to spoil my celebrations. Foreigners want to abolish what I'm familiar with. What politician can resist the temptation to fan this fire? ... The truth is that for politicians like Wilders, most of the Netherlands' rich culture is the enemy. For anyone who wants to reduce the multifaceted, extensive, creative, playful, intellectual and popular, subtle and sassy and synthesising Dutch culture to a threatened Easter egg, a less than perfect Christmas card or the make-up on the face of Black Peter, culture is no more than a straitjacket.”