In the Netherlands we know the right to freedom of religion and belief. This includes that everyone is free to express his or her belief. In the Netherlands, we find this right so important that it is enshrined in the Constitution (Article 6).
This freedom implies not only that you are free to express your faith, but also that you are free to change your faith. In some countries only one religion is accepted, but in the Netherlands you are free to make your own choice. This freedom is also reinforced by Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution which states: “All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted. So you can freely adhere to your own religious convictions and you may not be subordinated because of your specific religious convictions. If you are threatened because of your faith, the one who harasses you is punishable by law.
Freedom of religion and belief at the asylum seekers’ centre
Thus, when you are a Christian and you have fled Muslim country, you are free to confess your faith in the Netherlands. This freedom applies throughout the Netherlands, including the asylum seekers’ centre. You cannot be deprived of this freedom. When you have fled because of your Christianity, or you have been converted to Christianity in the Netherlands, you can freely express your (new) faith, including at the asylum seekers centre. You may not be disadvantaged or threatened because of your choice of faith or your choice to change your faith. This freedom applies to everyone in the Netherlands, also for asylum seekers. Everyone in the Netherlands must also accept this freedom from others in the Netherlands.
We sometimes receive signals that during civic integration courses, discrimination and / or mistreatment of Christians takes place. We take this very serious, because it has to be very clear to everyone, especially in the context of assimilation and integration that this is not part of the Netherlands. Incidents of this type are often difficult for course leaders to observe because discrimination or intimidation is expressed in a foreign language. But when you are confronted with such incidents during the integration course, we would like to know this. Not only must it be clear that this is not allowed, we also want to work on awareness among employees of civic integration courses what the background is of the people the deal with, how the group dynamics is and how religious tensions can play a role in this and how cultural differences work through.