The last time I had cause to mention the Dutch politician Piet Hein Donner was in my foreword to Geert Wilders’ book:
In the “most tolerant nation in Europe,” there’s still plenty of tolerance. What won’t the Dutch tolerate? In 2006, the justice minister, Piet Hein Donner, suggested there would be nothing wrong with sharia if a majority of Dutch people voted in favor of it — as, indeed, they’re doing very enthusiastically in Egypt and other polities blessed by the Arab Spring. Mr. Donner’s previous response to “Islamic radicalism” was (as the author recalls in the pages ahead) to propose a new blasphemy law for the Netherlands.
But a few weeks back Mijnheer Donner started singing a different tune. No more Sharia and Islamic blasphemy laws. Instead, “the Dutch Interior Minister is sounding an awful lot like Geert Wilders”:
The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.
A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: “The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society…”
The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, “it is not the government’s job to integrate immigrants.” The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.
If necessary, the government will introduce extra measures to allow the removal of residence permits from immigrants who fail their integration course…
Whatever the practical effect of these measures, Mr. Donner joins the German chancellor, the British prime minister and the then-French-president in at least rhetorically abandoning multiculturalism. Here’s how the interior minister used to talk:
After applauding Queen Beatrix for respecting Islam by not insisting that a Muslim leader shake hands with her during a visit to the Mobarak Mosque in The Hague, Donner said: “A tone that I do not like has crept into the political debate on integration. A tone of: ‘Thou shalt assimilate. Thou shalt adopt our values in public. Be reasonable, do it our way.’ That is not my approach.”
But it is now. We’ll see how long Mr. Donner’s new approach lasts. In France, M Sarkozy’s momentary butchness ended with his ejection from office, in an election in which (according to some analysts) the Muslim vote provided M Hollande with his margin of victory. The slow dawn of reality about “multiculturalism” may yet be eclipsed by demographic calculations of electoral viability.