[JURIST] The Netherlands [official website] should adopt immigration laws similar to those in Australia - widely considered the most stringent in the industrialized world and sometimes harshly criticized [JURIST report] - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende [official profile] said Monday during an official visit to Canberra. Balkenende said immigrants who seek to enter his country, like those who enter Australia, should be required to "respect the law and speak the language."
The Netherlands joins a growing number of European nations that like the United States are rethinking their immigration policies. Although traditionally considered a very tolerant and open society, the Netherlands has recently taken a series of controversial steps under the leadership of its center-right government and under the influence of violence by local Islamists [JURIST report] that may make it less attractive to members of foreign ethnic and religious groups. Last year the Dutch Parliament voted in favor of prohibiting all face coverings in public - including the Muslim niqab - for security reasons; the cabinet is awaiting a report [JURIST report] on the human rights implication of such a policy before endorsing it. Last year the Dutch parliament also approved strict new anti-terror laws [JURIST report]. UPI has more.