Deputy PM: Foreign imams should learn Dutch

Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs is investigating whether it would be possible to have imams coming to the Netherlands from abroad take a course on the Dutch language and society.

Asscher told the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, on Wednesday that this investigation should reveal whether it would be possible to introduce such a course and whether to make the course mandatory or voluntary, the Telegraaf reports.

Asscher had a number of discussions with Turkish organizations in the Netherlands recently. Among other things, they discussed the "possible impact" Turkey can have on the Turkish community in the Netherlands. According to Asscher, the Netherlands should remain alert on this type of impact, especially if it stands in the way of Dutch Turks integrating and participating in the Netherlands.

One of the Turkish organizations he talked to is Diyanet, the Turkish government service for religious affairs. Diyanet arranges that imams employed by the Turkish state visit the Netherlands. This language and society course would apply to these imams, but also imams from other countries.

Imam Yassin Elforkani of the Liaison Committee for Muslims and the Government thinks that Asscher's idea is an "excellent plan". But he does worry that imam training in the Netherlands is being forgotten. "That is much more urgent. We can't always keep on importing." he said to the Telegraaf.