Dutch immigrant test gets naked New cultural film part of application
Bruce Mutsvairo Associated Press Mar. 16, 2006 12:00 AM
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach.
For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture.
If they can't stomach it, no need to apply.
Despite whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands' new entrance examination.
The test, the first of its kind in the world, became compulsory Wednesday and was made available at 138 Dutch embassies.
Taking the exam costs $420. The price for a preparation package that includes the film, a CD-ROM and a picture album of famous Dutch people is $75.
"As of today, immigrants wishing to settle in the Netherlands for, in particular, the purposes of marrying or forming a relationship will be required to take the civic integration examination abroad," the Immigration Ministry said in a statement.
The test is part of a broader crackdown on immigration that has been gathering momentum in the Netherlands since 2001.
Anti-immigration sentiment peaked with filmmaker Theo van Gogh's murder by a Dutch national of Moroccan descent in November 2004.
Both praise and scorn have been poured on Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, architect of the new test and other policies that have reduced immigration by at least a third.
"If you pass, you're more than welcome," Verdonk said. "It is in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned."
Not everyone is happy with the new test.
"Today is a black day for the people intending to bring their partners to Holland," said Buitenlandse Partner, a lobbying group for mixed Dutch immigrant couples.
Dutch theologian Karel Steenbrink criticized the 105-minute movie, saying it would be offensive to some Muslims.
But Mohammed Sini, chairman of a national Muslim organization, defended the film, saying that homosexuality is "a reality."
A censored version had been prepared because it is illegal to show such images in some countries, filmmaker Walter Goverde said.