Dutch Political Views
on the Multicultural Society

Wasif Shadid & Sjoerd van Koningsveld

Published in W. Shadid & P.S. van Koningsveld:
Muslims in the Margin. Political Responses to the
Presence of Islam in Western Europe.
Kok Pharos, Kampen 1996, pp.93-113

No part of this article may be reproduced or copied without
acknowledgement of the authors  and source

Recent developments in various parts of the world show that the stability of multi-ethnic and multicultural societies is continuously under severe pressure. During the past decade, conflicts between ethnic and religious groups have increased considerably in number and intensity. These conflicts vary from armed struggles in countries such as Somalia, the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Ireland to serious calls for separation and autonomy in Belgium and Canada. Although on a smaller scale, a similar process of ethnic rejection is also to be perceived with respect to the integration of minority groups in West European societies. The rapid expansion of extreme right-winged movements, as well as the tone and contents of the ongoing discussions in the so-called `public debate on minorities', demonstrate a considerable decrease in tolerance towards other cultures and ways of life. In other words, the margins of the multi-cultural society have become increasingly narrow. Some central issues in this ongoing public debate are the (in)compatibility of Islamic and Western cultures, the limits of cultural relativism and the (im)possibility for Muslims to integrate while preserving their cultural identities.
The present contribution attempts to analyze the different views held by Dutch politics concerning issues of importance to the position of ethnic minorities, and of Muslims in the Netherlands in particular. The analysis will be based on the views on these issues, of the larger political parties as reflected in the reports of their scientific research bureaus, in statements of their prominent members and in their national election programmes of 1994 (See Verkiezingsprogramma's 1994).
The multicultural society
In the Netherlands, discussions on the meaning and dimensions of the multicultural society are rife. Some authors consider it a special form of pluralist society based on a democratic model. This implies a society which consists of various social groups each with their own distinct cultural traditions and based on certain accepted moral values, such as freedom, equality and tolerance. (See Tennekes and Musschenga 1984, 114 ff.).
In accordance with Gordon (1978), Procee (1991,1993), in this context, makes a distinction between corporate pluralism and liberal pluralism. The former concerns societies made up of various groups having distinct cultural identities and private, almost autonomous, institutional facilities such as schools, hospitals, media and labour unions. The emphasis here falls on the groups, which are more or less obliged to participate in their private institutions. Liberal pluralism characterizes societies in which the emphasis is laid on the individual as a member of a group. The various groups participate in and use public facilities while having sufficient freedom of action to fill-up and preserve their cultural identities. The individual is free to choose between the facilities available.
With respect to the presence of (non-Christian) ethnic and cultural minorities in contemporary West European countries, a multicultural society should be a society in which these groups and their cultures have been accepted as component parts of such a pluralist society, and in which this acceptance is reflected in official government policy, both in theory and in practice. This implies a society where minorities have the same chances and opportunities for a vertical social mobility and the preservation of their cultures and identities as the indigenous religious groups have.
Dutch political parties on the multicultural society
A closer examination of the documents produced by Dutch political parties on the position of minorities in the Netherlands, i.e., the extent to which these groups are considered an integral part of the Dutch multicultural society, reveals that all parties involved pay considerable attention to three central issues.
The first issue concerns immigration and remigration. In this regard attention is paid to the possibilities political parties are willing to create for immigration, especially for family reunions, and to their ideas on remigration.
The second issue is that of cultural contact and cultural identity. Here, considerable attention is paid to the relation between minority cultures and those of society, as well as to the opportunities and facilities that may be offered to preserve the identities of migrants. This also includes the attitude of the political parties towards lessons in languages and cultures of origin, Islamic schools and other religious activities.
Finally, the issue of the emancipation of minorities in the socio-economic structure of society is dealt with. In this regard attention is paid to the causes of the deprivation of these groups and the possibilities to create or guarantee certain basic conditions enabling them to correct this situation and to catch up.
The documents and statements analyzed reveal that in Dutch politics five perspectives on the multicultural society may be distinguished. These may be labelled as the perspectives of (1) rejection and (2) discouragement, on the one hand, and those of (3) selective, (4) corporate and (5) liberal pluralism, on the other.

The perspective of rejection
A rejection of the permanent presence of minorities in the Netherlands, in combination with an emphasis on the incompatibility of their cultures with Western cultures, is found mainly in extreme right-winged circles. In the election programme of the Centrum Democrats (CD, extreme-right party) for example, it is clearly stated that the Netherlands is full, and that the integration of minorities as well as the influence of foreign cultures should be stopped. This can be realized by stopping immigration and by enforcing remigration of unemployed foreign workers in particular, to their countries of origin, six months after their last employment. As to the elimination of the influence of foreign cultures, the CD plead, among others, for the dissolution of intercultural marriages. In its election programme, this party states that, in its unreflected policy, the government has confronted Dutch youth with irresponsible options for the selection of their life partners. This policy has resulted in multicultural marriages for which the government should bear full responsibility. Therefore, the government is obliged to facilitate the dissolution of such marriages on the request of the Dutch partners and the removal of the foreign partners back to their countries of origin as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the CD plead for ceasing subsidies to stimulate foreign cultures and for dissolving their institutions already established. In this context, they above all refer to lessons in the languages and cultures of origin, which should be provided only in the light of remigration and based on a contract to be signed by the person involved and the government of his country of origin.
The rejection of a multicultural society, in which Muslims and Muslim cultures are integrated, is most obvious in the note of the `Nederlands Blok' of 1994. This party is of the opinion (p. 34-35) that, due to his religion, the average Muslim has got many psychosocial characteristics making him unsuitable for functioning in a modern Western society. [...]. Therefore, the incorporation of Muslims will confront Western societies with huge, and possibly unsolvable, problems, which should be prevented through an active remigration policy.
The rejection perspective sees the weak socio-economic position of minorities merely in terms of deprivation, essentially caused by their culture and religion. According to the note of the `Nederlands Blok', "the isolation and marginalization of Muslims in the Netherlands are not due to discrimination, intolerance or unequal opportunities. They are mainly caused by their insufficient education, aversion to the Western way of life and by their Islamic upbringing" (p. 28).
Furthermore, these parties reject the rights which minorities have already acquired in society. The CD, for example, plead for the abolition of affirmative action measures taken in favour of the groups concerned and for the prohibition of their using of social security facilities. At the same time, they stress the need for the promotion of Dutch culture and for measures of positive discrimination in favour of 'real' Dutch citizens. In their election programme, they write that "discrimination against Dutch workers in favour of minorities, whether or not of the Dutch nationality, should be penalized." Besides, The "Reformatorische Politieke Federatie" (RPF, a Protestant Christian party) feels that the right already granted to foreigners to participate in municipal elections should be withdrawn.

The perspective of discouragement
A second view regarding the multicultural society is labelled the perspective of discouragement. Its central features are ethnocentrism, cultural antagonism and the desire for compelled assimilation. Roughly speaking, the perspectives of rejection and discouragement show great similarities. The major differences between the two are not primarily to be found in their views on the multicultural society as such, but rather in the kind of measures advocated to prevent such a society. The discouragement perspective views Islamic culture as underdeveloped, creating an unbridgeable gap between this culture and Western culture. Consequently, supporters of this perspective stress the importance of discouraging minority groups, and Muslims in particular, to preserve their cultural identities and encourage them to remigrate to their countries of origin. However, they do not go so far as to plead for their expulsion from the Netherlands, as long as they adapt themselves to the Dutch culture and way of life.
With respect to adjustments, supporters of the discouragement perspective handle a double morality standard. They quietly tolerate the deviations from the social norm of the native Dutch groups while, on the other hand, those of Muslims are considered to be totally unacceptable and are used as evidence of the incompatibility of Islamic and Western cultures. The discouragers clearly illustrate the way the classical categorization principle works, where similarities within the ingroups and the differences between them and the outgroups are exaggerated. Such a perspective is repeatedly expressed in the political discourse of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, right-winged liberals). In public speeches and in the media, Bolkestein, leader of the VVD in the Lower House, has criticised Islam, the Muslim world and the future of Muslim minorities in Western Europe. He has also warned against the danger threatening Western Europe because of the influx of refugees and immigrants, from Muslim countries especially. Furthermore, he has highlighted the antagonism between their religion and Western culture and considered the discussion on the integration of Muslim minorities as being a power conflict. In this regard, he said that, "if integration is to be declared an official government policy, then which cultural values will have to dominate: those of the non-Muslim majority or those of the Muslim minority?". The leader of the VVD, as well as the unofficial viewpoints of his political party, moreover, questioned cultural relativism and emphasized the universality of certain Western values. In this regard, they mentioned separation of Church and State, freedom of speech, tolerance and anti-discrimination. According to Bolkestein, these values have been engendered by the liberal philosophy and are lacking in Islam. To prove the assumption that Muslim immigrants do not subscribe to these values, the leader of the VVD referred to the situation in the immigrants' countries of origin. Consequently, he rejected any kind of compromise on these essential matters.
A similar ethnocentric attitude is also to be found in the political working paper of the VVD with respect to the affairs of minorities. Its author argues that, "if we are not allowed to hold up our Western values as a model for other cultures, we will be condemned to a moral laissez-faire attitude and to moral paralysis." According to him, such a situation should be prevented by making it clear to the Muslim minority that it is out of the question to haggle about certain political principles, not even a little bit. (Van der List 1992, p. 13).
However, ethnocentrism is not just to be found in VVD circles. Left-winged political parties also stress the incompatibility of Islam with Western culture. According to the Socialist Party's (SP) note, 'Gastarbeid en Kapitaal', differences in culture and development make it difficult for the Dutch to work or live with their foreign colleagues, especially those originating from Muslim countries. It quotes with approval that "Muslims have a different style of reasoning and a cyclical and repetitive attitude." The SP suggests, so-called in favour of the groups concerned and of the Dutch, that after two years minorities should either naturalize or remigrate to their countries of origin. Those who decide to stay should be obliged to take special courses in Dutch language, culture and way of life (see also Shadid and van Koningsveld 1995).
The most obvious ethnocentric attitude is to be found in the election programme of the "Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij" (SGP, a Protestant-Christian party). This party states that, as Dutch culture is largely based on (Protestant) Christianity, it should not be equalized with other cultures. Consequently, the government should not be permitted to contribute, neither financially nor in any other way, to the spread of antiChristian beliefs. Subsidizing mosques must be rejected."
In the previous paragraphs, we have illustrated the ethnocentric attitude of some political parties as well as their assumptions concerning the incompatibility of Islam with Western culture. It is also of great importance to pay attention to their ideas about the necessity of and their readiness to take concrete measures with regard to migration and immigrants. Both VVD and SGP plead for the reduction of the number of immigrants, because the Netherlands is not an immigration country. The former party believes that a considerable increase in immigration will jeopardize the effectiveness of the integration measures already taken. It is of great importance to prevent such a situation both by constraining immigration and by increasing the attractiveness of remigration through the introduction of a remigration-option. The SGP attempts to limit the number of immigrants tightening up the admittance requirements, so that family reunions will be permitted only for family members in the first degree and the spouse.
Moreover, supporters of the discouragement perspective plead for a policy of discouragement where facilities for preserving the cultural identity of minorities are concerned. In its election programme, the VVD states that "though the government, in observing the constitutional right to found private organizations, cannot prevent eventual pillarization, it should, nevertheless, apply a discouragement policy in this regard". Such an attitude can readily be explained because, in the view of the VVD, minorities are not primarily regarded as cultural groups but rather as a kind of economic asset, which must be developed to have it play a vital role in creating an economic basis in the Netherlands. The aforementioned examples clearly illustrate that both the unofficial views of the VVD as expressed in their working paper and by Bolkestein, as well as its official views, assume a relation of tension between minorities retaining their cultural identities and their integration in the host society.
The discouragement policy can also be deduced from the negative attitude of some political parties with respect to lessons in the languages and cultures of origin, Islamic schools and other religious activities. The VVD argues that preserving one's cultural identity should be the responsibility of the groups concerned. Therefore, the government should refrain from subsidizing lessons in the languages and cultures of origin and should delete such education from the regular curriculum. Also the RPF feels that providing subsidies for such lessons, for prayer halls and for other religious activities should be stopped.
The perspectives of discouragement and rejection also differ in their explanation of the weak socio-economic position of minorities in the Netherlands. The former perspective attributes the causes of this weak position only partially to the culture of the groups concerned. Other factors, such as the insufficient educational qualifications of the individual members of these groups and the decrease in the demand of unskilled labour in society, are also mentioned as possible causes. Therefore, the VVD has expressed the opinion that, besides being entitled to help in the course of the integration process, minorities should also be under the obligation to improve their educational level and schooling in order to increase their chances of achieving a respectable position in society. This may be realized by introducing the so-called 'basic-education duty' or 'settling down contracts'. Strikingly, in its election programme the VVD does not refer in any way to the Bill for the improvement of the proportional labour participation of minorities. By this Bill, submitted by the political parties of the VVD, Green Left and Democrats '66, employers are obliged to report annually on the number of minority groups employed in their companies.

The perspective of selective pluralism
This perspective consists of a mixture of ethnocentric and cultural-relativistic attitudes. On the one hand, cultural pluralism is considered to be an enrichment to society while, on the other hand, the right to preserve one's own cultural identity is only conditionally accepted. In their election programmes, the Labour Party (PvdA) and Democrats '66 (D'66) explicitly mention that the Netherlands has always been open to foreigners and has in fact become an immigration country with various ethnic groups and religions. Especially the PvdA considers immigration to be advantageous, as it provides a stimulus for the prosperity and development of society. Both parties oppose the idea of forced remigration, considering this as a signal indicating the decline of society. Simultaneously, however, they fervently plead for the limitation of immigration to the Netherlands. PvdA is satisfied to mention the fact that over the past years, labour immigration has been practically stopped, and additional conditions with regard to the right to family reunion and family formation have been formulated. Therefore, compared to other European countries, the number of immigrants into the Netherlands has remained limited to 5.5% of the total population only.
With respect to the cultural integration of immigrants, the election programme of the PvdA also highlights some aspects of cultural relativism. It states that it is impossible for a democratic state to determine the meaning of cultural progress or to judge it as to its value. The state, therefore, should remain neutral in these matters, as well as protect pluralism. Moreover, in a special paper of the same party (Kansen geven en kansen grijpen. Den Haag 1992), cultural integration is viewed as a mutual process. On the one hand, immigrants should get acquainted with the norms, values and customs of the host society and, on the other hand, society should incorporate their cultures. However, such an incorporation reflects a double attitude, conditioned by the extent to which the observance of certain norms and values of minorities affects the basic rights of others (p. 15). The underlying assumption is that some norms and customs, especially of first generation Muslims, not only collide with those of the host society, but also provoke generation conflicts within the groups concerned. In this context, reference is made above all to practices such as arranged marriages, authoritarian parent-child relationships, and the position of women. The PvdA says that such norms and practices should be adjusted. However, adjustments should not be enforced, but must be carried out within these communities themselves and based on their spiritual and cultural heritages. The social democrats show a double attitude because, "on the one hand, they consider Western values superior ... and the starting-point for their policy on minorities policy but, on the other hand, they reject the assimilatory consequences of their universalism" (Fermin, 1994, p. 59). A similar double attitude is perceptible in the election programme of D'66. Respect for and appreciation of the cultures of immigrants are emphasized, but at the same time, it is argued, that these cultural heritages should neither conflict with human rights nor raise any obstacles which might result in their isolation.
The election programmes and working papers of the parties concerned also include conditions with regard to other aspects of identity preservation, including lessons in the languages and cultures of origin and Islamic schools. As for the former, the aforementioned note of the PvdA mentions the necessity and advantages of such an education. Knowledge of the language of origin is often linked to that of the original culture and basically contributes to the second-language acquisition. According to the PvdA, the government should offer these facilities, and ensure that no gaps will occur in the regular educational programme of the pupils. Besides, preference is given to lessons in the mother tongue instead of in the official language of the country of origin. Teachers who are educated in the Netherlands are therefore to be preferred. In this regard, D'66 argues that such an education should be well integrated in the school as a whole.
With regard to Islamic schools, supporters of selective pluralism take a paternalistic attitude. PvdA mentions in its note that the phenomenon of Islamic schools is inspired by Dutch tradition, and doubts whether it is supported by the majority of the Muslim community. This party prefers 'normal' schools and urges the question to be taken into consideration of how these schools can meet the religious needs of pupils having various cultural backgrounds. D'66 pleads for enough scope for these communities to teach at their own schools in accordance with their religious convictions, but also prefers schools where Dutch children and those of minority groups can meet on a basis of mutual respect. Moreover, the party believes that the confessional schools should justify the way they express their identity to the government. If they refuse, they should lose their subsidies.
From the perspective of selective pluralism, minorities are not really seen as cultural groups, but rather as social groups in which the individual plays a central role. In this respect, it has a focus similar to that of liberal pluralism. Within the framework of integration, members of minority groups have to participate individually in the general facilities of society. According to the previously mentioned paper of the PvdA, real social integration is a matter of full access to the main sectors of society, such as the labour market, education and health care. The existing diversity of ideologies, religions and cultural backgrounds should at the same time be reflected in these sectors. Therefore, these sectors should tune their organization and staff to the pluriformity of society (p.14).
In this perspective, the weak socio-economic position of minorities is considered to be the result of a deprivation caused by the low educational qualifications of the individual members of the groups concerned, and of discrimination as well. According to D'66, discrimination on the labour market is a real problem and its impact should be diminished through the introduction of the previously mentioned Bill for the promotion of the proportional labour participation of minorities.

The perspective of corporate pluralism
In Dutch politics, not only the above mentioned perspectives, but also the view on the multicultural society as a form of corporate pluralism can be distinguished, especially in circles of the Christian Democrats. The main idea in the election programme of the "Christen Democratisch Appel" (CDA, Christian Democrats) emphasizes spiritual or religious freedom, which demands pluriformity and diversity. This party prefers a society consisting of a cultural mosaic, i.e., of integrated cultural (religious) groups which, at the same time, have retained their cultural identity. The CDA considers integration to be the capacity to (1) participate in the labour process, (2) to obtain an income, and (3) to develop a cultural identity of one's own within societal networks chosen by the groups themselves. In other words, participation and emancipation in society should be realised from within these networks and through private institutions. Societal networks including the core family, relatives, friends and various other private organizations are considered to be the institutions par excellence, to guarantee the security of the individual and save him from loneliness and from hanging back. This means that in the perspective of corporate pluralism, neither the individual nor the group is considered to be the only focal point of action. It is the responsible person as part of a social network, consisting of groups and organizational frameworks, which underlies the basic ideas on society of the Christian Democrats. (See Salemink 1993, 492). This train of thought typifies the way in which Dutch society had been organized since the introduction of the so-called pillarization system, at the end of the nineteenth century as a result of an ideological struggle between Catholics and Protestants.
In regard to the integration of nonChristian minorities, supporters of the pillarization system refer to the valuable contributions which this system made to the emancipation of Catholics and Calvinists in the Netherlands. They urge Muslims to create their own pillar in order to achieve such an integration and emancipation in Dutch society. It is, however, remarkable that the pillarization strategy nowadays is introduced in order to improve the weak socio-economic position of Muslims in the Netherlands. Contrary to this, the traditional pillarization in the Netherlands was not really meant to diminish the deprivation of the groups concerned but primarily to guarantee the preservation of their specific identities. Thurlings (1978, 37) argues that if Catholics (of that time) had considered their problems a matter of social deprivation, they would not have needed the pillarization system at all, because in that case it would have been more effective for them to continue their cooperation with the liberals.
As to maintaining the cultural identity of the groups concerned, corporate pluralism stresses the principle of equality. With respect to education, for example, the CDA chooses in its election programme for a fully subsidized national educational system consisting of both public and confessional schools. Within this system, every person, irrespective of his origin or income, should be entitled to equal claims to education of the same quality. However, this party also holds the view that other necess-ities needed to preserve a cultural identity, such as education in language and culture of origin, should be provided outside of school hours, and that parents should contribute to them financially.
Due to several factors inherent to the nature of the groups concerned, as well as to society at large, the advocated pillarization system will not be effective in realising the socio-economic emancipation of Muslims in the Netherlands. First of all, and in contrast with Dutch Catholics and Protestants, these groups are ethnically, culturally, as well as religiously heterogeneous. They originate from different countries and belong to different cultures and streams of religion, which is the reason why they are incapable of formulating a common objective or of founding a communal pillar. In addition, they have to do without a broad social framework in society because employers and sufficiently skilled staff belonging to their confession are lacking.
Furthermore, the Christian Democrats primarily define the weak position of minorities in terms of deprivation. Contrary to other previously mentioned perspectives, they do not attribute such a deprivation to differences in culture, but essentially to structural factors inherent to the groups concerned, such as a lack of education and schooling. Consequently, they urge the government to assist them in order to reduce the impact of these obstacles.
The preceding viewpoints justify the conclusion that in their policy on minorities, the Christian Democrats concentrate on the emancipation of these groups in Dutch society from within their own social and religious institutional frameworks, while at the same time maintaining their cultural identity. The great emphasis which the Christian democrats put on culture and religion as fundamental pillars of society will, however, also have a negative effect on the position of minorities in the long run. In a working paper of the scientific research bureau of the CDA, a distinction is made between nation and state. The former is defined as "a community of people usually sharing historic events, a common language, culture, religion and national consciousness." The state, on the other hand, has a public function with respect to all the citizens of a country. (Salemink 1993). Since the Christian Democrats explicitly emphasize a common religion as a substantial feature of a nation, nonChristian groups are denied the opportunity to become part of the Dutch nation, even in the long run. Consequently, it is obvious that within the perspective of corporate pluralism, a real integration of religious minorities in the nation is out of the question.

The perspective of liberal pluralism
Compared to other political parties, Green Left (GroenLinks) holds different and extreme views on the multicultural society and chooses in its working paper on minorities (see GroenLinks 1993) for a liberal pluralistic perspective. The features of this perspective are clearly expressed in the ideas of this party on immigration, on the cultural position of immigrants and on their emancipation in Dutch society.
With respect to immigration, Green Left and Minister Pronk (see Pronk 1994, 200), Minister of Development Aid and a member of the PvdA, argue that the Netherlands should be willing to admit more foreigners, at least as long as the international causes for immigration have not been taken away. This, according to Green Left, is not only desirable but, without any great difficulty, also possible. Holland by now has become an immigration country. In this regard, the party even pleads for legalizing illegal foreigners for whom social premiums have already been paid or who have resided in the country for more than two years, as well as for extending family reunion rules so as to include marriage and nonmarriage relations.
It is remarkable that the plea for more foreigners, at least to some extend, is inspired by the assumed positive effects of immigration on Dutch society. In the party's election programme, several positive effects, such as "a well-balanced age distribution of the population, the emergence of new kinds of business activities, a better occupation of the labour market and the enrichment of Dutch culture," are explicitly mentioned. According to Pronk (PvdA), the most positive impact of immigration should be looked for in the need for Dutch society to be dynamic and to renew itself. This can only be realized through a confrontation of cultures within the boundaries of one's own country, leading to an increase in mutual understanding and shared information. Admittance of foreigners to the Netherlands should, therefore, not only be based on economic, juridical and ethic criteria, but on socio-cultural considerations as will.
With regard to the cultures of immigrants and the preservation of their cultural identities, Green Left, in its previously mentioned paper, rejects both rigid universalism and ideological cultural relativism. According to this party, cultures are not static but are changing constantly and it is therefore erroneous to pin people down on their original cultural traditions. Besides, culture does not have the same meaning to every individual and it is difficult to trace where one culture begins and another culture ends (p. 40).
However, this party does not consider minorities as cultural but rather as socio-economic entities. In its previously mentioned working paper, Green Left points out that an adequate policy on minorities should concentrate on the reinforcement of the social position of minorities rather than on the preservation of their cultural identities (p.51). Consequently, this liberal pluralistic view has the disadvantage of implying a form of hidden assimilation, especially in a society with great power differences. Green Left is aware of this fact but accepts it nevertheless because, according to them, the strategy of liberal pluralism is the best way to promote interaction between the various groups concerned. Therefore, willingness to interact should be the only criterion for the hierarchic classification of cultures. Those cultures who want to learn from others should be more highly.
Nevertheless, Green Left considers the cultures of minorities as subcultures within a general Dutch culture and at the same time pleads for a complete freedom of education and religion. Consequently, this party argues that general cultural activities should be aimed at every individual in society, irrespective of his origin or ethnicity. This, for example, means that in the curricula of primary and secondary schools it should be possible to include optional subjects on languages and cultures of Surinamers, Turks and Moroccans for all of the pupils. This party also criticizes the contents and methods of lessons in the languages and cultures of origin. With their consent it quotes several researchers who question the scientific basis of the assumptions regarding the positive effects of this kind of education.
The liberal pluralistic view defines the weak position of minorities in the Netherlands essentially in terms of discrimination. It considers intentional and unintentional discrimination against minorities, as well as their unequal legal status, to be the crucial causes of their deprivation. To reduce the influence of these constraints, Green Left advocates the introduction of the Bill for equal opportunities mentioned in the previous sections. In its election programme, this party goes even further and pleads for more effective measures, such as contract compliance. This means that government subsidies for and contracts with employers should be subject to conditions regarding the readiness of employers to employ more members from minority groups. In addition, this party stresses the importance of equal political rights for the sake of emancipation, and pleads for the extension to all levels of the passive and active franchise for foreigners who have been residing in the Netherlands for more than two years.
The liberal pluralistic views as formulated by Green Left can best be compared to the American traditional ideology of amalgamation, launched as a reaction to the assimilation ideology. This ideology assumed that, in the long run, the various groups in society would take what was best of each culture, which would ultimately result in one single culture in which all of the groups could recognize themselves.
Despite its idealistic objectives, the perspective of liberal pluralism has nevertheless a certain driving force. It stresses the explicit recognition that immigration is not only favourable to the migrants themselves, but to Dutch society as well. Furthermore, this view counterbalances and challenges the rejection perspective in which slogans such as 'the country is full' and 'our own people first' are heard more and more frequently.

Discussion and conclusions
The aforegoing analysis has dealt with the views of Dutch political parties on various items regarding the multicultural society. The analysis clearly shows that, even though these parties share similar views on certain aspects, such as immigration, it is justified to distinguish between various perspectives concerning their ideas on both the socio-economic and cultural position of minorities in the Netherlands.
Firstly, where immigration and remigration are concerned, a continuum can be seen, ranging from 'the country is full', on the one hand, to 'the country is not full', on the other, as defended by the rejectionists and liberal pluralists, respectively. In between, one can find those claiming the Netherlands 'is not an immigration country', and those who are of the opinion that de facto it 'has become an immigration country', as defended by the discouragers and by supporters of selective and corporate pluralism, respectively. Except for the liberal pluralists, however, the perspectives distinguished stress the importance of reducing immigration to the number stipulated by international treaties and national regulations. In other words, these perspectives do not differ fundamentally but gradually on the issue of immigration: immigration to the Netherlands should be restricted, but the manner according to which this should be realized differs.
As regards the desirability of pluralism and the outcome of cultural contacts, hardly any differences exist between the perspectives distinguished. However, except for the corporative pluralists who prefer a cultural mosaic, they in fact all defend a monocultural society model.
A similar consensus can be found regarding their ideas on improving the weak socio-economic position of minorities. It is interesting to mention that, with the exception of the liberal pluralists, all perspectives comprise elements of 'blaming the victim'. This pattern of thought explains the main causes of the situation from within the groups concerned, i.e., by attributing them to their culture and to a lack in the conditions necessary for their emancipation, such as insufficient education and schooling. Only the liberal pluralists primarily 'blame the system' and stress the fact that deprivation is mainly due to direct and indirect forms of discrimination against the groups concerned.
Secondly, the analysis reveals that where Muslim minorities are concerned, the Dutch political parties act as if Dutch society has become multicultural only after the immigration of these groups to the Netherlands. Besides, they also act as if the slogan 'integration while retaining one's own cultural identity' has been launched especially for these groups. Most modern societies, however, are composed of various cultural, ethnic, religious and ideological groups which at the same time share and subscribe to certain fundamental values needed for society to function. In practice, these groups may have fundamental differences of opinion about certain values, but simultaneously accept and respect the opinions of the majority on these relevant matters. In democratic states, the majority, however, is composed of cross-sections of these groups. The Dutch constitution, for example, has been based on such a principle since the introduction of the pillarization system at the end of the 19th century. In other words, modern and democratic societies do not essentially differ as to the cultural or religious composition of the population, but rather with respect to the space minorities are allowed to practice their culture, and experience and shape their identity.
Furthermore, the questions and doubts raised about the integration of Muslims in Dutch society as expressed in the election programmes and working papers of the political parties are not primarily juridical, but rather social-normative in character. Religious freedom, freedom of speech and the equality of all individuals, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or gender, are after all the foundations on which the Dutch Constitution is based. Therefore, these questions and doubts reflect first of all the unreadiness of society at large to offer opportunities to Muslims to participate in the socio-economic, cultural and ideological cross-sections of society, while at the same time preserving their (religious) identity, if they should so prefer. The social and political resistance against some distinct wishes of Muslims, including the wearing of head-scarves, Islamic schools and the founding of prayer-halls and mosques, clearly indicates that such opportunities are not optimally present in the Netherlands. As far as Islamic schools are concerned, it is clear that despite the constitutional freedom of religion and education their foundation does not proceed smoothly and is the subject of heated discussions. Generally speaking, two main objections have been raised against the foundation of Islamic schools. These objections can be characterized as paternalistic and figurative and are easy to refute. First of all, it has been argued that such schools would constrain the integration of the groups concerned, because contacts between children from different ethnic backgrounds would be minimalized. This argument does not carry much weight as one can observe that the phenomenon of the so-called 'black' and 'white' schools has become a reality within the sector of public schools over the past decades. In fact, one fifth of the primary schools in the four major cities in the Netherlands include more than 70% of pupils from minority groups. These figures clearly indicate that ethnically separated education has been a fact for a long time. The second objection concerns the assumption that this type of school is outdated because the Netherlands is already depillarized. But it is also a fact that at present 60% of the primary schools in the country (5,000 schools) belong to the confessional type and that the thirty Islamic schools make up only a fraction of this total. The aforementioned clearly indicates that the juridical integration of Muslims in the Netherlands, i.e., the opportunities laid down in the constitution, develops at a greater pace than the social acceptance of the pluralistic aspects of that constitution.
Thirdly, the analysis presented in the previous sections reveals that only those cultural aspects of the Dutch multicultural society are rejected which concern Islam and certain Muslim groups. Other immigrants, such as Surinamers, Antillians and Indonesians, are often absent in the discussion. In the course of the past decade, the debate on ethnic minorities sofar has resulted in the division of society into two broad categories: 'ingroups' against 'outgroups'. Both, tone and content of the discussion imply that the outgroups mainly consist of Turks and Moroccans to whom a uniform Islam is ascribed as their religion and as the sole ingredient of their cultural background. Their socio-economic and intra-Islamic diversity, as well as other aspects of their cultures are hardly taken into consideration.
Furthermore, the criticism of Islam and Muslims has an axiomatic character and has mainly become aimed at (1) certain theoretical aspects of this religion, (2) the behaviour of some of its adherents and (3) the way it is practised in the Muslim world. Nonetheless, statements of politicians and views of political parties on this religion are put in generalized terms where Islam as a religious system and its adherents are concerned. Such opponents, however, overlook certain substantial facts. They overlook the fact that the majority of Muslim countries concerned have no Islamic political system. The lack of freedom of speech as envisaged in these countries should therefore not be ascribed to Islam, as supporters of the discouragement perspectives do, but rather to the nonIslamic political systems prevalent in these countries. In addition, such opponents mistakenly assume that the majority of the Muslim migrants in the Netherlands support the way freedom of speech is interfered with their countries of origin. On the contrary, the vast majority considers Western democracy as an example to be followed.
As far as the notion of cultural antagonism between Islam and the West is concerned, not only politicians but also scholars get stuck in certain sensational examples of Islamic behaviour related to such issues as the position of women, sexual morality, and the authority of the father. These assumptions have also an axiomatic character because they never indicate to what extent such behavioral aspects are accepted and applied by the groups concerned. According to some scholars (see as an example Tennekes and Musschage 1984, p. 125), the abovementioned antagonism is however not part and parcel of the practice itself. After all, such behaviour can also be found with autochthonous groups. It is rather embedded in the norms and values of the minority groups and in their perspective on reality. With this opinion, the authors assume that this kind of behaviour forms an essential part of the views of Turks and Moroccans on reality. It is surprising that the authors do not attempt to substantiate this assumption by offering some empirical evidence. When trying to explain this kind of behaviour, they only state that these communities have not taken their distance from the dominance of men, the authority of the father, and the views on men and women on which these are based.
From all that procedes we have to draw the conclusion that the alleged cultural antagonism is not based primarily on empirical research but largely on ascribed attitudes and identities. Such identities are artificial images and are derived from the comparison of two ideal types of view: those of the predominantly secular Dutch society, on the one hand, and of certain conservative thoughts in Islam, on the other. In addition, the generalization of such thoughts and the divergent behaviour of some Muslims play a central role in the construction of these artificially constructed identities. Apparently, researchers and scientists in this field do not succeed in making the diversity in cultural perspectives and behaviour of Muslims clear. Unfortunately, they do not succeed in making clear that also within these communities a distinction should be made between the ideal and the actual, and between theory and practice. A closer examination will reveal that, in practice, the vast majority of these groups, for example, attaches equal importance to an education for both boys and girls, recognizes the equivalence of both men and women, organizes the relations with their children on the basis of a dialogue, and the like. Those who do not live up to these social norms should therefore be considered the exceptions and not the rule.
In this context, both scientists and politicians who participate in the societal debate on minorities in the Netherlands have neglected the crucial question why society indeed tolerates the deviant behaviour of autochthonous groups while adamantly rejecting that of Muslims. There are autochthonous groups who discriminate against homosexuals and ethnic minorities, who reject women's passive right to vote, who refuse preventive vaccination or oppose the incorporation of the evolution theory as a key part of the final examination at schools. In their election programmes, GPV, RPF and SGP (Christian parties) even plead for the abolition of the Act on equal treatment because it is supposed to infringe upon certain inalienable fundamental rights, such as freedom of religion and education. The latter party also explicitly advocates the withdrawal of the Acts on euthanasia and abortion and rejects all kinds of artificial conception. Consequently, the crucial question is here: Why is it so difficult to tolerate certain cultural utterances made by some Muslims as comparable deviations?
The answer to this question should be sought in the rejection of Muslims as fellow citizens by society. It is a factual refusal to accept the idea that Holland has become an immigration country and that, nowadays, a considerable number of people in that society do not only have a different appearance and culture but at the same time also wish to identify themselves with that society. The ongoing discussion between politicians, scholars and journalists on the incompatibility of Islam with Western culture, therefore, should be considered as a preserve to retain the monocultural and mono-ethnic composition of Dutch society.
Consequently, unless the government applies a diversified policy comprising society as a whole, a Dutch multicultural society in which Muslims and Islam play a considerable role will remain a utopia. Such a policy should entail more than the obligation of members of minority groups to acquire cognitive skills, such as a knowledge of the Dutch language and culture. The ultimate objective of the immigration policy should focus on the acquisition of mental skills required to learn to accept and to tolerate, and should not only be aimed at minority groups but also at society as a whole. As far as the former is concerned, such a policy should be meant to increase their sense of belonging, i.e., their feeling of being at home in the Netherlands and their readiness to accept the country as their second fatherland. Regarding the latter, it should contribute to increasing the readiness of the original population to accept minorities as fellow citizens with equal rights and duties.
In conclusion, an adequate policy for achieving a multicultural society should focus on challenging the assumption that the Netherlands is only meant for the originally Dutch population; on improving the socio-economic position of minority groups; on emphasizing cultural similarities; on tolerating cultural differences, intensifying intercultural dialogues and tabooing the exploitation of negative sentiments in society for demagogic reasons. In this context, prominent politicians, communication media, parents and schools could play a crucial role.

For recent discussions on the multicultural society in the Ntherlands, see :
Shadid, W. (2008): De multiculturele samenleving in crisis. Essays over het integratiedebat in Nederland. Gigaboek, Heerhugowaard, ISBN: 9789085481690.

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