Dutch foreign minister criticised for saying multi-cultural societies are violent

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok defended himself on Wednesday after coming under fire for saying multi-cultural societies could never be peaceful, and former colony Suriname was a 'failed state' because of its diverse ethnic makeup. 'Give me an example of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, where the indigenous population still live..

Reuters July 19, 2018 05:05:30 IST
Dutch foreign minister criticised for saying multi-cultural societies are violent

Dutch foreign minister criticised for saying multicultural societies are violent

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok defended himself on Wednesday after coming under fire for saying multi-cultural societies could never be peaceful, and former colony Suriname was a "failed state" because of its diverse ethnic makeup.

"Give me an example of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, where the indigenous population still live... where they live in a peaceful, societal union," Blok told a gathering of Dutch employees of international organisations. "I don't know of any."

Someone in the audience suggested Surniame, a former Dutch colony on South America's Atlantic northern coast populated mainly by the descendants of Asian indentured workers, African slaves and indigenous people.

"I admire your optimism," he replied. "Suriname is a failed state and that is very much linked to its ethnic composition."

Blok, a member of the conservative VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, made the comments at the gathering in The Hague on July 10, but the remarks came to wider attention only after video appeared on Dutch TV programme Zembla on Wednesday.

Blok told Zembla on Wednesday that his "aim was to stimulate an open exchange and to hear the participants’ experiences.

"My contribution during the question and answer session of the meeting partly was aimed in part at sparking a reaction from the audience. During the closed meeting, I used illustrations that could come across as badly chosen in public debate."

Suriname, which became independent from the Netherlands in 1975, has had an occasionally troubled political history.

President Desi Bouterse, in office since an election in 2010, previously ruled the country in the 1980s after taking power as the leader of a violent military coup. He was convicted in absentia in the Netherlands for cocaine trafficking, on charges he says were trumped up by the Dutch government.

Lawmakers from several Dutch political parties, including all members of the governing coalition, demanded an explanation for Blok's remarks.

Lawmaker Kees Verhoeven of a the centre left D-66 party, a coalition member, called the remarks "incomprehensible" in an open letter asking Blok for an explanation.

"The job of a foreign minister is to maintain diplomatic relations," Verhoeven said.

In the same video, Blok discussed African tribes and religious groups as examples of people's inability to get along.

"I can't see the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi, nor between a Sunni or a Shi'ite," he said, referring to two central African tribes and the two major sects of Islam. "Unfortunately, they can. Probably somewhere deep in our genes, we want a defined group" to belong to, he said.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts
Business

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices strengthened on Wednesday, as OPEC and its allies were seen complying with a pact to cut oil supply in September, even as concerns loomed that recovery in fuel demand will be stalled by soaring global coronavirus cases. Early in the day crude was boosted by a bullish stock market. Even as equities whipsawed on pandemic worries, oil stayed higher, buoyed by expectations that OPEC could staunch a supply glut

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000
Business

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000

By Tina Bellon and C Nivedita (Reuters) - Tesla Inc will further cut the price of its Model S "Long Range" sedan in the United States to $69,420, the electric carmaker's chief executive, Elon Musk, announced in a tweet https://bit.ly/2H0JCP0 on Wednesday. The anticipated drop marks the second time this week Tesla has cut the price for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut of the Model S's price in the United States on Tuesday to $71,990.

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen
World

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen

By Jeff Mason DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Under siege over his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited what he said was his son's mild bout of the virus as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible. Trump made the comment about his son, Barron, as the president swept into Iowa on a mission to shore up support in battleground states that he won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Democrat Joe Biden barely three weeks before the election. First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that the virus that struck both her and her husband had also infected their 14-year-old son