Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk wanted it to be a “dignified ritual which the participants can look back on with pride and pleasure.” But the Netherlands’ inaugural National Naturalisation Day went off with a whimper rather than a bang. It had been hoped that ceremonies organised in communes across the country would allow immigrants to celebrate their newly-gained Dutchness.
Turnout however was poor. In smaller towns, only a few new citizens turned up. In Amsterdam, there were only 250 out of the 3,500 invited. One of those who did attend was Brazilian-born Rosemary Pinto. She said that freedom, tolerance and justice are the most important things for her and if they can be maintained in the Netherlands, it should prove to be a paradise. There will be a much higher turnout in future. From October, attendance will be compulsory.