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The Netherlands is a very tolerant society, relatively speaking.  Sure, there is racism, but it’s often less pronounced and harder to find then in say, France or Germany.   Then again, what else would you expect from a country where both hookers and pot are not only legal, but regulated by the state?  I think bitter memories of Germany fascism and WW2 may have something else to do with it.  At any rate, it’s always interesting to gauge a country by what their immigrants think.   On that level, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has an interesting article on Queen Beatrix’s Silver Jubilee — that is, her 70th birthday.  RNW decided to survey immigrant opinion regarding the Dutch monarch:

Turks and Moroccans form the two largest ethnic groups in the Netherlands, both numbering more than 300,000.
Then there are the people with connections to Surinam and the Antilles in the Caribbean. As former colonies – Surinam is independent, the Antilles part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – these countries have ties with the Netherlands that go back centuries. Queen Beatrix and her female predecessors on the throne have, therefore, been held in affection by many people in and from these countries for a much longer period.

People from the Dutch Colonies:

It turned out that Surinamese people and Antilleans rather enjoy getting dolled up in orange-coloured clothes on Queen’s Day (celebrated on 30 April) or when there’s an important international football match involving the Dutch national squad. People with Turkish or Moroccan blood are much less so inclined, although members of the second and following generations of these – originally ‘guest worker’ – communities are much more likely to join in such activities.

Turks and others:

“We feel extremely well-supported by the queen,” is the comment from two leading men, one Turkish, one Moroccan. Mustafa Ayranci is a board member of IOT, an advisory body representing Turkish people in the Netherlands, while Fouad Sidali chairs SMN, an organisation in which various Moroccan groups cooperate with one another. They are unanimous in their expression of loyalty to Queen Beatrix.

Following her last Christmas broadcast to the nation, in December 2007, the Dutch head of state came under fire from Geert Wilders, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV). He interpreted her speech as an attack on his party, because she called on the people of the Netherlands to be tolerant. A quote from her speech: “Today, we notice a tendency actually to highlight differences. Coarseness in word and deed eats away at tolerance. Discussions degenerate into intransigent positions. In such an atmosphere, people are quickly lumped together as a single group and prejudices are taken to be the truth. This erodes away the spirit of community.”

Geert Wilders is, incidentally, not the only person to believe that the monarch was criticising his brand of politics. There were others, too, who took the queen’s Christmas message that way, which partly explains the enthusiastic reception she got from the country’s ethnic minority communities.

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