21,000 on petition against immigrant test

June 20, 2006 at 7:20 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, June 20 (UPI) -- More than 21,000 people in The Netherlands have signed a petition opposing a controversial plan to test immigrants in language and culture.

Mustafa Ayranci, who has been coordinating the petition drive, told Expatica that he has been getting support from a cross-section of the country. He said that a total of 21,500 signatures have been gathered.

"We are not against integration, but above all against the compulsion included in it," he said.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk proposed the plan to require immigrants to take courses in the Dutch language and culture and to pass a test if they wish to remain. She denies that the test would be discriminatory.

Attitudes towards immigrants in the country have been strained in recent years, especially by the killing of Theodore Van Gogh. The filmmaker, a relative of the painter Vincent Van Gogh, was stabbed by a Muslim man apparently angered by a movie he had directed criticizing Islamic attitudes towards women.

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