According to a report by the Foreign Office, an estimated 500,000 Moroccans and 21,000 Congolese live in Belgium legally. Moroccans compromise the largest African community in Belgium, with an estimated 81,000 choosing to maintain their nationality. Not included in the report are estimates of illegal migrants, numbering at about 100,000.
The appointment of two Muslim politicians to the new Dutch cabinet has reawakened a row in the country over dual nationality. Nebahat Albayrak and Ahmed Aboutaleb are both Dutch passport holders, but also have Turkish and Moroccan passports respectively. Right-wing opposition parties want to see an end to dual nationality. The row has led to a call for Princess Maxima, the wife of the Crown Prince, to give up her Argentine nationality. Ahmed Aboutaleb, from Morocco, is the State Secretary for Social Affairs in the new cabinet. Nebahat Albayrak is Turkish and becomes the State Secretary for Justice. Lowered popularity They are the first Muslims to reach the heart of Dutch politics. The opposition right-wing Freedom Party has objected to the new centrist government being allowed to have members with dual nationality. The outgoing right-wing Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, said Princess Maxima, who is married to the heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem Alexander, should give up her Argentine passport. Opinion polls show the row over dual nationality has lowered the popularity of the new government. But Ahmed Aboutaleb is credited with helping immigrants to find jobs as well as pushing for more integration.
By Prasun Sonwalkar Multiculturalism as a way of social integration in Britain is dead, concludes a unique University of Leicester study after the July 7, 2005, blasts in London. It should instead be replaced by the idea of inter-culturalism, says the report published after the conclusion of the one-year research. The findings have significant bearing on Britain’s policies towards Asian and Afro-Caribbean minorities. Inter-culturalism is defined as a sharing of cultural experiences with people from a different culture. It contrasts with multiculturalism that celebrates diversity. The report, titled “Engagement With Cultures: From Diversity to Inter-culturalism”, is authored by researchers Bill Law, Tim Haq and Asaf Hussain, who carried out their research in Leicester, a town in the east Midlands with a large minority of Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin. The authors state: “We believe multiculturalism has failed. It was a concept and a social re-engineering policy with the best of intentions, but with little debate at the grassroots. It failed to recognise or ignored the dangers of religious fundamentalism with deadly consequences. “It was yesterday’s message conveyed by yesterday’s men and women. “Multicultural policies saved no lives in London. The ones who died and were injured through the terrorist actions of British born terrorists in July 2005 came from all countries, cultures and religions.” “Our message is simple. Britain’s population has to become integrated.” Key conclusions of the report are: * Cities with immigrants directly from South Asia face greater challenges than those whose South Asian immigrants came from Africa. * Inter-cultural bridging has no value if it is a middleclass exercise. It has to occur at grassroots to have any impact. * Funding of cultural organisations must change. Funding should be conditional on engaging with other cultures. * Ensure citizenship is part of the education agenda. * Remove the link between religion and nationality, for example British Muslim, as this is mutually contradictory (one refers to a nationality and the other to a faith). Instead, this should be replaced with, for example, British Indian or British Pakistani. The report adds: “The term ‘British’ should be given specific meaning in terms of values of the adopted land in which such persons are settled.” According to the authors, “The term British should mean values of British society. It suggests respect for the monarchy; loyalty to the state (elected government); internalise values of democracy ie to express difference through democratic process, not violence; respect and abide by the law; accept plural society.”
AMIT ROY Foreigners who want to apply for British nationality will have to pass a Britishness test from tomorrow, the home office announced today. Out of 24 multiple choice questions, candidates will have to get three-quarters right before being eligible to apply for British nationality. The idea, which has gained momentum after the London bombings of June 7, is to create a society in which people feel proud to belong to Britain. Tony McNulty, Tony Blair’s immigration minister, said today: Becoming a British citizen is a milestone event in an individual’s life. He explained: The measures we are introducing today will help new citizens to gain a greater appreciation of the civic and political dimension of British citizenship and, in particular to understanding the rights and responsibilities that come with the acquisition of British citizenship. While urging people to become more British, the government has pursued policies which is having the opposite effect. It is allowing the setting up of faith schools, mainly Muslim, within the state system. Their supporters have argued that if Christians and Jews can have their own schools, Muslims, too, should be allowed the same right. While this argument has intellectual force, it does encourage children to grow up without developing natural friendships with pupils from other faiths. There are a couple of Hindu schools and a Sikh one is in the pipeline. But Hindus and Sikhs seem less enthusiastic about sending their children to faith schools. On the other hand, a whole generation of Indian immigrants, mainly women, has lived in Britain for more than 30 years without bothering to learn English. The same is true of Pakistanis, notably Mirpuris, in Bradford and other cities in Yorkshire and the West Midlands. As for the Britishness test, foreigners will have to pay _34 to sit the 45-minute exam, which can be taken at any one of 90 centres through the country. Those who fail can take the computer-based exam again and again. The Life in the UK test, based on a handbook, is intended to examine a candidate’s knowledge of everyday life in the country in such areas as British regional accents, the Church of England, the courts and the telephone system. Sample Questions Revealed Today Are Of The Type: _ Where are the Geordie, Cockney, and Scouse dialects spoken? What are MPs? What is the Church of England and who is its head? _ What is the Queen’s official role and what ceremonial duties does she have? Do many children live in single parent families or step-families? _ Which of these courts uses a jury system? Magistrates’ Court? Crown Court? Youth Court? County Court. _ Is the statement below true or false? Your employer can dismiss you for joining a trade union. _ Which two telephone numbers can be used to dial the emergency services? 112? 123? 555? 999? _ Which of these statements is correct? A television licence is required for each television in a home. A single television licence covers all televisions in a home. (Answers to the last four questions are: 1. Crown Court 2. False 3. 112 and 999 4. A single television licence covers all televisions in a home) Last year more than 110,000 people were awarded British citizenship, according to the home office.
Foreigners living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality. The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines. The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote. Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules. It is estimated that around 120 000 people are to contribute from the new regulations.