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Dutch students face neglect as the Pro-Education second-largest Party in the parliament roll-out red carpet for asylum-seekers

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As the plane makes a half-circle to aim the final landing approach of the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in Holland, the rows of Dutch houses laid in straight and circular shapes comes within hand’s reach. A tiny village with brownish-black houses divided by a narrow straight road, complete with a church and dull emerald green fields where cows graze endlessly, looks like an 18th-century photo frame from the window seat. Little in this frame say about the housing crisis in Holland that takes its toll on youths and students by making housing out of reach due to shortage and skyrocketing prices. Left-leaning Dutch caretaker government and its coalition partner pro-education party D66 have neither a credible solution nor a desire to find one. Red carpet welcome for asylum seekers, mainly coming from Morocco, Turkey, Algeria and Afghanistan, guarantees accommodation and food while they wait to get legal resident status. 

In the last decade, Holland or The Netherlands has seen its rising popularity for higher education. Lured by high-quality education, functional spoken English on streets and openness of society, international and European students have flocked to already overcrowded university towns. Student accommodation is limited, expensive and often of poor quality. For local students, housing scarcity is a painful but familiar topic but it puts new foreign students landing at a bigger disadvantage. Students fall prey to fraudsters who exploit them by quoting exorbitant rents for substandard and even non-existent accommodation.

A woman said that his son, Bert would stay in a caravan in his first university year. Maria, a young Spanish student shared an apartment with 6 adults in an apartment in the Amsterdam Bijlmer area. Her room rental cost was Eur 600 per month. A private student housing block in the Amsterdam Sloterdijk area costs EUR 550 per month for a dark and dingy room with a shared kitchen and toilet for 6 pupils. Covid pushed many students to study from home in the last academic year. This time the acute housing scarcity made universities issue a warning to the incoming students but the pro-education D66 has failed to take notice.

D66 is a liberal democratic party that traditionally positioned itself as a pro-education party. D66 website displays its motto “Freedom begins with Education”. Under its perilously left-leaning leader, Sigrid Kaag, the D66 has become a party better known for bringing refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East. The leader of D66, Mrs Sigrid Kaag, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is preoccupied with finding housing for asylum-seekers whose numbers run in thousands while the students sleep on the streets. She routinely goes for photo-ops including the one with a Syrian man living in a refugee detention centre. On 24-Aug, riots broke out to protest against setting up transit housing for refugees in the Dutch province of Gelderland known for picturesque landscapes dotted with castles and tiny villages. The rioters were local youths hundreds in number. Mrs Kaag swiftly branded them “heartless” with no compassion and showed them the moral mirror of the tolerant Dutch value system. In her leadership, asylum-seekers get prioritized and vulnerable young students get neglected.

In 2021, Holland has admitted 1673 Afghan refugees and another 21500 have sought to be airlifted. The refugee settlement policy is a contentious issue for the local communities. Local governments vie for more refugees settlements to get more budget from the central government but local residents invariably protest against such moves. In some areas, nuisance created by asylum-seekers has gone to the extent that a dedicated police unit has been formed to keep them under check.

Before the Afghan crisis erupted, Holland received more than half of the asylum seekers from four Islamic countries – Syria, Algeria, Morocco and Turkey. After arrival, they are put in transit accommodation, the amenities of which will put five-star European camping sites to shame. Once granted legal status, the asylum seekers undergo an intensive civic integration program to teach them the Dutch value system encompassing gay rights, equality of women, and religious tolerance. Under the same tolerant value system, legal soft drugs and well-regulated prostitution exist, which even seems outrageous to other Europeans. People coming from repressive societies hide the culture shock and acquiesce in return for the right to stay. In spite of tens of millions Euro spent in integration programmes, the beneficiaries have used them as a revolving door between the comfortable European lifestyle and the gruesome activities that they fled from and sought asylum for.

One such Syrian asylum seeker Aziz (35), a leader of terror group Jabhat al-Nusra, participated in 19 murders in Syria in 2012. Aziz successfully got asylum and legal resident status in 2014 by fraudulently claiming to be a graduate from the University of Damascus, even after getting his visitor visa denied earlier. The dubious claim of pro-asylum activists that asylum seekers will support the knowledge economy stands exposed when the background checks are woefully inadequate.

Mrs Kaag, the leader of D66, is married to a Palestinian man who was a minister in the PLO government. Her credentials include a degree in middle eastern studies and a stint as a diplomat. She speaks fluent Arabic. She covered her head during a visit to Iran out of respect for ‘their’ culture. She responded to her critics that it was a mission for the security of Holland. Perplexingly enough, she does not expect asylum-seekers to show the same respect for Dutch culture where burqa, hijab and polygamy are the symbols of regressive religious practices.  Holland has not become more secure with her red carpet policy for asylum seekers. 

In the national parliamentary election held in March, D66 emerged as the 2nd largest party by winning 24 seats out of 150 seats. Barring four parties, 13 others scored single-digit seats. This has boosted the chances of Mrs Kaag becoming the Dutch prime minister in an intractable coalition for which the negotiations are in progress fruitlessly for over six months. 

European liberal democratic politics prevented communism and fascism to take over Europe after World War II by offering a progressive alternative that promised to deliver social welfare and human development. In the subsequent decades, the left has successfully morphed itself into liberal democrats. Unless the Dutch society is able to recognize this change, Bas, Maria and numerous other Dutch students will go shelterless and penniless in the winter while asylum-seekers enjoy coffee with cheese sandwiches in their centrally heated transit parks.  

Update:

Dutch courts have given Jihadi Aziz A. and his brother Fatah 15 and 11 years prison sentences on 20 Sept. Mrs Kaag has resigned from the post of acting minister of foreign affairs. The Dutch government is adding hundreds of houses for asylum seekers on a war footing. Students in the Free University (VU) of Amsterdam protested against the housing shortage on 23 Sept but the government took no concrete action so far.

Aparajit is my pen name. I am a banker and IT professional living in the Netherlands. I am a keen observer of the religion, culture and society of Europe from the Indo perspective.

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