Remember the American South in the early 1960s? Or South Africa in the 1980s? That is what Western Europe in the early 21st century is beginning to resemble. A school in Amsterdam has introduced separate entrances for white and coloured pupils. At the Rietlanden/8th Montessori school in the east end of Amsterdam there are two separate entrances 30 metres apart, one for native Dutch children and one for immigrants. The school authorities claim that this situation has nothing to do with racism because the school welcomes children from all ethnic groups. All it wants is for them to enter through different doors. The school constitutes a complex with two sections. One, the coloured section, is called “Rietlanden,” the other, the white section, “8th Montessori.”
“For one reason or another our school had acquired a bad reputation,” headmistress Annemieke van der Groen says. “In such a case you can invest in quality as much as you like, but it is difficult to convince white parents to enroll their children here. If they come to have a look, they say ‘You know, with all these black children’ and enroll their children elsewhere.” Hence, the two entrances and different names for the same school.
Local councillors Fatima Elatik and Ahmed Aboutaleb are not happy with the situation. They are in favour of mixed schools and suggest enforcing this by forbidding white parents from enrolling their child in a school unless they bring along a non-white couple with a child to enroll as well. Deputy headmistress Nelly Bruin of the Rietlanden school opposes such a measure: “What you will see then is that highly educated parents will bring along educated immigrants. You will end up with schools for uneducated immigrants and white trash. That is not what you would want either.”
This type of problem is likely to increase in the future. Of the 16 million inhabitants of the Netherlands, ten percent are immigrants. There are 1.1 million “traditional immigrants” – mainly Turks and Moroccans – and 560,000 (former) asylum seekers. Of the latter group an additional 10,000 enter the Netherlands each year, of the former some 55,000. These are mainly young people of childbearing age.
There are currently 359,000 ethnic Turks in the Netherlands, 45% of whom are “second generation” Turks, meaning that they were born in the Netherlands. There are 316,000 Moroccans, of whom 47% are second generation. Among the asylum seekers the largest groups are Iranians (37,000, of whom 12% are second generation) and Afghans (29,000, of whom 17% are second generation).
190,000 babies were born in the Netherlands in 2005. The birthrate is declining fast. In 2004 there were 195,000 births; in 2003 there were 200,000; in 2002 there were 202,000. The Dutch authorities expect that by 2010 the number of births will have fallen below 180,000. Within this shrinking group, the number of immigrant newborns (second and even third generation) continues to grow: from under 40,000 in 1996 to over 48,500 in 2004. A quarter of them are ethnic Moroccans, 20% is Turkish. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague half the newborns are of non-Western origin. Dutch women have on average 1.5 children. The number for Moroccan women living in the Netherlands is 3.3 and for Turkish women 2.3.
"Dutch Segregation Is Not Racist," 20 January 2006