How Dutch are you? TV quiz for failed asylum-seekers

Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:56pm EDT
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By Gilbert Kreijger

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Five asylum-seekers who are due to be expelled from the Netherlands will compete in a Dutch television quiz show this week with the chance to win 4,000 euros ($5,773) for their knowledge of all things Dutch.

Their expertise on Dutch geography, history, politics, art, and language among other things is unlikely to be of much use once they have left the Netherlands, but the editor behind the show says he wants to make a serious point about immigration policy and give the winner money for his or her new life.

The Netherlands was long regarded as among the more generous countries in welcoming asylum-seekers and immigrants but that has changed over the past decade, reflecting voter concerns over the large number of Muslim immigrants.

Geert Wilders, who heads the anti-Islam, anti-immigration Freedom Party, is the ruling coalition's key ally in parliament and has used that influence to push for tougher immigration policies.

"This program is about the children of asylum-seekers who have lost out in the asylum process. Children who have sometimes been in the Netherlands longer than eight years," said Frank Wiering, editor-in-chief of Dutch broadcaster VPRO.

"It is harrowing that these people have to leave. We've made a quiz with these people and you can laugh about it but the subject is not funny," Wiering told Reuters.

The one-off quiz show is called "Away from the Netherlands" -- although the title also translates as "Crazy about the Netherlands" -- and will feature five contestants between the ages of 15 and 22 who have spent much of their lives in the country and now face expulsion.

Public and political criticism has grown this year over the expulsion of young asylum seekers, many of whom have spent most of their lives in the Netherlands.   Continued...