Chapter 9: Ethnic Minorities in the Netherlands
9. Ethnic minorities in the Netherlands Joop Hartog INTRODUCTION Concern regarding ethnic minorities in public debate and government policies covers more or less only recent immigrant groups. There are modest regional differences in income levels and unemployment rates, and natives of these regions have distinct characteristics; however, discrimination is not an issue. For centuries the Netherlands has been deeply divided along religious lines, but a unique political system based on tolerance and an absence of absolute power has held the nation together. The discrimination in the past (against Roman Catholics and Protestants of minority groups), which perhaps endured up to the early decades of the twentieth century, has now vanished, although statistical analyses sometimes find small differences in earnings and educational achievement. There are at present three main groups of immigrants which merit attention: those from former colonies; former guest workers and their descendants; and refugees. Problems with earlier inflows have disappeared. After the Dutch Indies became independent Indonesia in 1948, colonial rulers and company managers came home and were absorbed without any perceivable problems. Native Indonesians who had served in the Dutch Indies army, mostly Moluccans, were supported by the government in settling in the Netherlands, as they had been on the “wrong side” in the fight for independence. They were concentrated in designated towns and areas, and they kept their dream alive of a Moluccan republic. This resulted in violent action in the 1970s, when their youth demanded government backing to help realize their dream. The government appeased...
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