Belgium: Immigrants told to pass language test

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun May 14 15:19:13 UTC 2006

Sunday, 14th May 2006 From the Scotsman, International

Immigrants told to pass language test


BELGIUM'S Flanders region is to demand that incomers wanting state housing
must pass Flemish language exams. While the move is aimed at forcing
immigrants to integrate, it is set to raise tensions with the
French-speaking south of the country in a nation often bitterly divided by
language. The policy is being introduced by the region's minister for
housing and integration, Marino Keulen.

He said:

"If people want to build themselves a future here, then it is in their own
interests that they learn to speak and understand the language. "This is
part of a real social project and not an attempt to exclude people." While
the bill must receive its final approval from the Flemish regional
government, the fact that it has government support means it is virtually
certain to go through. The bill has been criticised by immigrants' groups
and by ministers in the southern and French-speaking region of Walloonia.
Their minister for housing, Andre Antoine, claimed the Flemish law is in
breach of equal rights provisions.

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