An opposition movement against the Dutch cabinet’s support for mosques has failed. The Home Affairs Ministry and Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) assert that government subsidies for religious organizations are permissible on the basis that it fosters integration. The failed opposition bid was supported by the conservatives (VVD), Party for Freedom (PVV) and centre-left D66, as well as the Socialist Party who argued that the “government cannot be a little bit neutral”, and should “tackle segregation via training and work, not via subsidies to mosques”.
The public prosecution will not deal with a complaint by State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma against the Helmond Foundation of Muslim Schools (Stichting Islamitische Scholen Helmond). Dijksma claims that the school administration wrongly spent over 900, 000 euro in subsidies. The claims came following Dijksma’s report to parliament last year which claimed that 90% of Muslim schools are misusing subsidy money. In the case of the Helmond Foundation, Dijksma claims that subsidy money has been used for self payment and compensating “phantom workers”. Prosecution recognized that the money was not spent as intended, but that it was not used for purposes of “grave self enrichment”, Trouw reports. The State Secretary says that she will respect the decision.
The Amsterdam city council and the national government will reduce funding for the As Siddieq Islamic school, which has three locations in Amsterdam. The school faces cuts because it has ‘failed to meet agreements on citizenship and social integration’. State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma said she is reacting to a critical report by the government’s Education Inspectorate which found that the As Siddieq school is not doing enough to integrate its pupils in society. In addition to the move by the national government, Amsterdam education councilor Lodewijk Asscher withdrew the municipal subsidy to As Siddieq. He has lost confidence in the school board, he told board members in a town hall meeting.
As Siddieq drew attention earlier this month when Hennie Metsemakers, a former teacher who was suspended by the school a year and a half ago, publicly claimed that the school encouraged children not to integrate and treated non-Muslim teachers as inferior.
The Spanish government announced that it plans to modify its immigration policy. The changes focus on increasing family reunification criteria, extending the time authorities are allowed to keep undocumented under arrest, and create provisions facilitating immigrants’ return to their countries. The amended policies will also include incentives for immigrants to return to their home countries by making payments from their unemployment subsidy. The changes are set to be implemented starting in July, and is in response to Spain’s economic difficulties; approximately 20,000 immigrants are expected to be considered eligible for the new policy program.
The northern Italian city of Turin is offering 300 euros per month as a subsidy to families who host refugees from the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan. The aim of the project is to encourage families or persons to host one or two refugees for six to twelve months, so that the refugees can achieve a certain level of autonomy. Most of the refugees are between the ages of 25-28. Of the 420 refugees and asylum seekers hosted by Turin, only 148 are eligible for the program, due to limited space.