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Minorities report reveals Netherlands “parallel” societies

A new report on the Netherlands reveals that different communities now live a parallel existence without “significant interaction” with each other.

The report from the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) states: “Although the Netherlands has a long tradition of tolerance and openness to other cultures, expressions of racism and intolerance continue to be reported, including in political discourse.

“The different groups in society seem often to live a parallel existence alongside one another, but without significant interaction with each other.

“Efforts have to be made to encourage a spirit of tolerance and intercultural dialogue in society and to prevent discrimination and stigmatisation towards all groups, including through the promotion of human rights education.”

Last October, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI) survey of the Netherlands noted that political hatespeech and negative media portrayals of Muslims and Eastern Europeans undermine the county’s efforts to tackle discrimination.

The report welcomes some positive developments in the authorities strategy of furthering inclusion but raises some concerns about the treatment of the Frisian speakers.

“The Netherlands continues to pay great attention to the protection of the rights of the Frisian minority and provides considerable support to the activities of this community,” the report adds.

“Frisian language education has significantly improved in recent years although the lack of qualified Frisian language teachers remains a concern among the Frisian minority.

“The new law on the use of the Frisian language, which declares Frisian to be the second national language of the Netherlands, will give an important stimulus to the use of Frisian in legal and administrative matters.

“However, there are reservations among the representatives of the Frisian minority as regards the future administrative reform which might weaken the position of the Frisian language, culture and identity if mergers of the Northern municipalities and provinces are implemented.”

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