From our reporter Michiel Kruijt
De Volkskrant 23.01.2006
Rotterdam - Minister for Integration Verdonk wants Dutch spoken on the street, and no foreign languages. She wants to include that in a code of conduct that will apply throughout the country. With that, she follows the example of the city of Rotterdam, which has drafted a code containing 7 rules of behaviour for interaction among citizens.
“It's very important to speak Dutch on the street. I receive mails from many people, saying that they don't feel at ease on the street," said the minister Saturday at a VVD congress on integration in Rotterdam.
"I want to have rules of behaviour about what we, as Dutch people, think is important, in order to live here."
She said that she was meeting with experts in order to draw this up. Not everyone in the VVD is convinced about having a ban against speaking other languages in public. Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Griffith (Economic Affairs) vehemently opposed such a proposal.
"I think it's going too far. Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city with foreign investors, who praise precisely its tolerance. When I speak with a Surinamese friend on the street and we don't cause any trouble, there's nothing wrong with that," said Griffith.
According to Rotterdam mayor Opstelten (VVD), the code should not be seen as a law. "It doesn't mean that whenever I hear another language on the Coolsingel I'm going to go make a call. [to the authorities -translator's note] The point is not that nothing else can be spoken. But we must be clear about the fact that if you don't have Dutch in your genes, it’ll be extremely difficult for you to manage.”
Verdonk said that it often isn't clear to persons who are immigrants what is expected of them when they've settled in the Netherlands. "They talk to me about that. We must not hesitate to be clearer about it,” said the minister.
Translated from Dutch into English by Agatha Haun, a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity (www.tlaxcala.es). This translation is on Copyleft.
Thanks to Jean Marie Flemal for help.