Dutch MPs want immigrants to learn national anthem
A majority of MPs want immigrants following the compulsory integration course to learn at least part of the Dutch national anthem.
Expatica (Netherlands), December 2, 2009
The Hague — A majority of MPs voted Tuesday for the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus, to be taught as part of the compulsory integration course for immigrants to the Netherlands, reported Trouw.
The motion, tabled by SGP MP Cees van der Staaij, had asked the Dutch integration minister to include the Dutch national anthem as one of the final objectives of the integration test.
The proposal was well-received by Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan who added while immigrants do not have to know all 15 verses of the national anthem, it is important that they know part of it.
Van der Laans view is supported by most MPs.
'Most native Dutch wont know all 15 verses, 'admitted van der Staaij.
The move was opposed by the democrat party D66 who described it as a forced attempt to forge a Dutch identity.
'There are multiple identities, old and new. We want to seek connections to new Dutch people via core values such as democracy, justice, civil rights and freedom. We see our identity as European. We don't need the Wilhelmus to bind society together,' said a spokesperson for D66.
What expats feel
The news has prompted a flurry of mixed responses among expats living in the Netherlands.
Dian Irawati, an expat who has lived in the Netherlands for over five years and have followed an integration course was unfazed by the announcement.
'I don't understand the fuss about making it compulsory. During my integration course, Wilhelmus was one of the materials that we learnt. I remembered thinking it was weird that 'den Koning van Hispanje heb ik altijd geerd' (The king of Spain, I have always honoured) was mentioned in the anthem).
'Since the intention of integration course is to prepare a new immigrant to life in the Netherlands and also those who would want to be a Dutch citizen, then why not?'
The 31-year-old from Indonesia said a quiz on Wilhelmus lyrics may even be better than some 'silly questions on vague Dutch society values' as it is based on history and facts.
Student Maggie Hulsebos who was born to a Dutch father and a Swazi mother agreed that it is a fair request.
'If people want to be a part of the Netherlands, learning the national anthem is acceptable. The national anthem is a part of a countrys history and should be taught to new immigrants looking to settle here, even though it will just be general knowledge that won't be used later on.'
Expressing dismay at the new regulation is Malaysian expat Denise Chua -van de Hoek.
'I think this is just one of the many ways the Dutch government is 'welcoming' foreigners to this country. I do not understand why they are making the integration course increasing more rigid. '
Chua van de Hoek went on to question what the new regulation spells for native Dutch who do not know the national anthem: 'I am sure some native Dutch do not know their national anthem that well. Does that mean they have to go through the integration course too?'