Thursday, July 27, 2006

Turkish imams may no longer enter the Netherlands, as the Immigration Service (IND) does not consider them sufficiently integrated

NIS:

Eighteen Dutch mosques are now without a spiritual leader, the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper reports.

New immigrants must follow a course in Dutch language and culture since March before being allowed into the Netherlands. "Under the new rules, all newcomers, including imams, must first take a test at the Dutch embassy in the country of origin. The imams have not done this," IND spokesman Maud Bredero explained.

The Turkish government has asked the Dutch embassy in Ankara for an explanation. "We will wait for this. But if necessary, we will join 142 mosque executive committees to take legal action," said Yusuf Kalkan, who is responsible for religious issues at the Turkish embassy in The Hague. He is also chairman of the national mosque association Diyanet.

Kalkan does not understand why the Netherlands no longer issues residence permits to Turkish imams. "All our imams have followed a three-month integration course at our expense at the Albeda college in Rotterdam. They know more about the Netherlands than they need to."

The IND spokesman admitted that the Rotterdam exam may be more taxing than the test at the embassy in Ankara. "But the fact is that we only accept a diploma gained at the embassy." According to Algemeen Dagblad, eighteen mosques in the Netherlands now have no spiritual leader.

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