Story from PRI's The World. Listen to audio above for full report.
Immigrants denied asylum in the Netherlands will soon have the chance to compete on a new TV show. They'll be tested on their knowledge of Dutch society, history and culture. The winners will receive $6,000 to start a new life in their countries of origin. The losers will be given a bag of tulips and a bulletproof vest.
"It sounds wacky, it sounds like a crazy concept, but there is a really serious concept behind it," the BBC’s Anna Holligan told PRI's The World. "The producers have set out to highlight the plight of these people through popular entertainment, so it connects with a larger audience."
The message, according to Holligan, is that "because of the country's real strict immigration policies, they're not being allowed to stay."
The Dutch have a reputation for pushing the bounds of reality television. The concept for Big Brother was created there. Another show made a stir after a supposedly dying woman had contestants compete for her kidney. The show turned out to be a hoax.
The immigrants on the show, however, appear to be real. One of them is an aeronautical engineer who's going back to Cameroon, according to Holligan. Another one is a Slavic languages student who's going back to Chechnya.
"All of the contestants are children of asylum seekers, and have spent most of their time here in the Netherlands," Holligan reports. So when they're asked about Dutch history and culture, they'll likely know quite a bit.
It still won't be enough to change their situation, though. "This show won't give any of them the right to stay," Holligan told The World. "Once the show is over, it's going to be a couple of weeks, and they'll be gone."
PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.More about The World.