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“The Dutch And The Jaahiliyya”

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Autor:  anton  07 May 2011
Tags:  Jaahiliyya
Words: 2675   |   Pages: 11
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I am writing this essay for my Political Economy course at the FHW in Berlin. When I was brainstorming about a topic I had a few ideas. I choose the topic “The Dutch and the Jaahiliyya ” because it is something I have been wanting to write about for a long time. In my personal life I come across this topic more and more and that is also why I think it is good to know something more about it. The research that is necessary to write this essay will provide me with a lot more background information and this may help me to discuss Islamisation topics on a higher intellectual level in the future.

The topic of Islamisation lies in a sensitive area and it will be a challenge to write diplomatically about it because I would like to ventilate my own opinion without hurting other peoples’ feelings and without being misunderstood. I will shortly explain my personal motivation behind the topic.

As an international Business Student I had the privilege to study and work in other countries than my home country. As an Erasmus student I met a lot of students from other cultures and countries. These experiences made my education more valuable for me because I am interested in cultural differences. It is not only interesting to learn about the cultures and beliefs of other students, it is also interesting to learn how they value mine. What I experienced is that a lot of people from other countries think that Dutch people are against Muslims and the Islam and that we are more racist than others. I understand that other people can get this idea from what they read in the media about what is/was happening in the Netherlands. However, we Dutch people consider ourselves as open-minded and tolerant.

In this essay I would like to talk about Islam and Muslims in the Netherlands, integration and the fear of the native Dutch people towards Islamisation. Therefore I would like to give more information about this in the first part of this essay. I will use scientific research, newspaper articles and articles out of opinion magazines to discuss and describe the Integration of Dutch Muslims. At the end of this essay I will mention some reasons why the Dutch are scared of Islamisation and I will share my opinion about what we can do to try to stop this.

Muslims in the Netherlands

It is not easy to give exact figures of the total Muslim population in the Netherlands, but we can say that it is approaching 900,000, or 5.8 per cent of the total population. Compared to the Western European average (around 3 per cent), we can conclude that this number is high. Only France has a higher percentage of Muslims (6.8 per cent). These statistics are based on ethnic descent, they do not take into account differences in Muslim identity, belief, practice and respect for the various religious duties. This is why these numbers should be handled with some caution. The largest groups are people with origins in Morocco or Turkey, who make up over 75 per cent of the Muslim population. Immigration from these countries started with the arrival of labour immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s. Later on, these labour immigrants brought over their families and this is why the number subsequently increased. Other important groups are the Surinamese Muslims and refugees.

Table 1. Ethnic breakdown of the Muslim population (allochtonen)

Country of origin Numbers Share of total Muslim Population (%)

Turkey 358 40.5

Morocco 315 35.6

Surinam 70 7.9

Iraq 44 5.0

Afghanistan 37 4.2

Iran 29 3.3

Somalia 22 2.5

Dutch converts 10 1.1

Total 885 100

Source: Douwes (2005: 27); also Phalet and Ter Wal (eds) (2004), 5 volumes.

Most Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands are first- or second-generation immigrants, and over half have the Dutch citizenship. The first generation immigrants have still strong links to their national identity. This is noticeable in the way they hold on to their traditions, culture and in the fact that a lot of first generation immigrants (especially women) still do not speak the Dutch language. The second generation perceives the shared religion of the Islam as more important than the shared origin and language. In November 2004, the Minister of Integration and Immigration Rita Verdonk commissioned an inquiry into the radicalization of young Muslims. The conclusion was that many of them experience alienation, feeling disconnected with both their first-generation immigrant parents and from the Dutch society. While they participate less in religious activities than their parents, they link more strongly their identity with Islam and with the global Muslim community.

The educational level of non-Western immigrants in the Netherlands is significantly lower than the level of the native Dutch. Turkish and Moroccan students are more likely to drop out of school and are overrepresented in the lower levels of the secondary Education. In 2006 there were 46 Muslim primary schools and two Muslim secondary schools financed by the Government. The lower educational level of the immigrant has impact on their employment opportunities. Only one third of the Moroccans and half of the Turks have a salaried job. The average household income of Moroccans and Turks is more than one third lower than that of the native Dutch. Their unemployment rate is also elevated: 27 per cent for the Moroccans and 21 per cent for the Turks, as compared to 9 per cent for the native Dutch . In the workplace, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have become more complex since 11 September 2001 Complaints focus on reduced tolerance towards the wearing of the hijab, prayer opportunities, or Muslims in general. What also changed after this famous date is the growing violence targeting Muslims. After 9/11, there was an increase in the number of reported incidents, vandalism and acts of aggression against Muslims and Islamic symbols. After the assassination of Theo van Gogh in November 2004, this only got worse. A number of websites appeared praising the murder and posing death threats against other people. A report for the Anne Frank Foundation and the University of Leiden counted a total of 174 violent incidents in November. In December 2004, a Muslim primary school in Uden was completely destroyed by fire. This was the incident that led to a serious political debate in the Netherlands. Dutch politicians publicly spoke out their opinion about it and asked the nation to stop anti-Muslim violence. The period of heightened tension between Dutch and Muslim communities was a period I would rather forget because it was contradicting heavily with what we where striving for, namely a “we” society instead of a “we versus them” society.

Integration of Dutch Muslims

The Dutch integration policy focused since the beginning of the eighties on the building of an equal society. The ethnic minorities have to get the same chances for a good future and development opportunities. The focus lies on active citizenship of ethnic minorities. Integration asks for the participation of the immigrants as well as the native Dutch.

Since developing and maintaining good relationships with Muslim organisations is very important, the Dutch authorities are consulting with representatives of Muslim Organisations. As mentioned before, discussions about the integration into the Dutch society of immigrants in general, and specifically of Muslims, have become much more heated in recent years. Since the beginning of the 1990s, a significant section of the Dutch population has had a negative opinion about the presence of immigrants. The incidents that followed the murder of Theo van Gogh made the integration of Muslims even harder and raised questions about the radicalisation of young Dutch Muslims. This is because before all these incidents, the Dutch politicians thought that young Muslims would become more secular, and would look for less traditional forms of Islamic religiosity and practice than those of their parents. This image is unfortunately not valid anymore.

As a reaction on the political discourse concerning Islam, a few right-wing national politicians (including Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders) stepped up and publicly expressed their criticism. They have become very visible in the Dutch media because of their statements on Islam. The Dutch integration policies where re-discussed and there where changes in the national policy on integration. Examples of this can be found in the development of several policies that made integration of newcomers more mandatory and demanding, also in the domain of culture.

Non-Western immigrants in the Netherlands tend to be concentrated in segregated neighbourhoods in the bigger cities, which suffer problems of deterioration and high levels of crime. Politicians are trying to improve this situation, but the reason is that the native Dutch (and increasingly also the immigrants) middle-class population moves out to the city suburbs. This off course affects the school population and the labour market in those cities. What is an even more important fact, is that it will be even less interaction between the non-Western immigrants and the native Dutch. If we don’t live together we will also never get a better understanding of each other’s culture. The fact nowadays is that two thirds of the native Dutch population have little or no contact at all with immigrants. Moreover, contacts between the groups are decreasing, notably those between second generation Turks and Moroccans and native Dutch.

The fear of Islamisation

In May 2006, a poll by Motivaction / GPD (1,200 Dutch adults +/- 3%) found that 43% of Dutch citizens felt that Islam is incompatible with modern European life. A poll of June 2004 found that 68% felt threatened by "immigrant or Muslim young people", 53% feared a terrorist attack by Muslims in the Netherlands, and 47% feared that at some point they would have to live according to Islamic rules in the Netherlands.

How does it come that the Dutch are so scared? Of course this is not a question that can be answered in a few sentences. In contrast to the Nazist regime and communism, Islamism does not form a real militaristic threat to Europe. Terrorist attacks took place, but it did not turn out into a big war. This can change easily, especially when we consider the possible amounts of atomic weapons that Iraq possesses. This is what makes the Dutch scared. Not the friendly Muslim neighbour or the nice colleague that happens to be a “Muslima”. It is the threat of terrorism. Who will be next? That is the question that keeps our minds busy.

The extreme right wing parties did a good job in making us scared of what can happen to us. A lot of people start to think that our culture will be swept away because we made ourselves vulnerable. More and more we hear the message that Muslims come to the Netherlands with the idea that Sharia is the law of Allah. They see our freedom of religion and the fact that non-Muslims make the laws that are not based on the laws of Allah but on the basis of consensus and free elections and see this as Jaahiliyya, the era of pre-Islamic ignorance . According to them we are currently in the time of our history that we are still ignorant, before our country will change into an Islamic state. It is a fact that in the Dutch Mosques, the Imams still encourage violence against homosexuals, submission of women and hate against Jews. The Islam is much more that just a belief, it is a belief system that prescribes war between believers and non-believers and this is something that is not compatible with the Western society. However, for me it is not realistic (and I do not want) to believe that every religious Dutch Muslim shares these ideas and that these are the pillars the Islam is build upon.

What can we do to stop this fear?

The Dutch society has a special rule or regulation for everything. Everything is controlled, and by being spontaneous you can get yourself into serious trouble. An example of this is a new rule that was implemented a few months ago. I will shortly explain it to illustrate my point.

If we need new photographs for an official document we must go to a photographer that has the abilities to make the photo official enough. Glasses for example are not allowed in the picture because it makes it harder to recognise a person that might try to disguise himself. Laughing in the picture is also strictly forbidden, but it can even get worse! A friend of mine told me lately that he had to put cotton wadding behind his ears because without them his ear shelves where not visible enough! All these rules are implemented to be able to fight Muslim terrorism better and of course we are more than happy to co-operate. What is strange is that, funnily enough, Muslim women do not have to comply with the strict photo rules. They can retain their headscarf in the picture. Here our government handles a comic variant on the slogan of the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “we are all the same,….but the Muslims are more the same”.

And then the discussion about headscarves on schools. Why make a big fuss about it? The integration of this went silently. Finally an integration in the Netherlands that did work out. The wearing of a hat or cap in the classroom is still forbidden. When there is a religious motivation behind it, it is untouchable: holy! There is nobody who dares to think about the girls who do not want to wear the headscarf at all but are forced by their family. They do not have the chance to count on the protection of politics or their own school board.

¾ of the Dutch have the opinion that there is not enough respect for others in our society. There is also a lack of solidarity. According to a research of the “Social and Cultural Planning office” , almost ⅔ of the 1200 participants have the opinion that the quality of our society is going downwards in stead of upwards with the Dutch society.

Our government has a high Christian content and is from origin antirevolutionary. There was a lot wrong wit the French Revolution, but not with the ideas of De Montesquieu and Voltaire; separation of power and freedom of speech. These pillars are currently in danger. As long as we don’t face this, we will be running from incident to incident. The tension between Muslims and native Dutch is for the biggest part based on religion and is secular. Dialogs with Muslims and especially between Muslims and Christians will not solve anything as long as the tendency remains to translate religious convictions in public. This trend has only become stronger under the current political regime in the Netherlands.

The Christian political parties in the Netherlands have the tendency to change our democracy a little bit to make the Dutch Muslims happy. In my opinion it should be the other way round: The democracy should not take religion into account, but religion should take democracy into account. The separation between religion and the State should be the first pillar of the country policy. When we would succeed in doing this, the right extreme parties would not have anything anymore to build their case upon and lose important votes. This in turn would calm down the political atmosphere so we will have the change to work on a better future together.


Froukje Demant (MA), Marcel Maussen (MA)& Prof. Dr. Jan Rath, Preliminary research report and literature survey Muslims in the EU: Cities Report THE NETHERLANDS, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES), 2007

Angus Reid, Islam Incompatible with Europe, Say Dutch, Global Monitor: Polls & Research, 2006

Edward van der Kaaij, Moslims zijn gelijker dan anderen,Volkskrant Forum 10-6-08

Nanda Troost, Wees niet naГЇef over islamisme, Islamisten & naГЇvisten, Volkskrant, katern Het Betoog, zaterdag 21/4, 2007

Liz Fekete, “Speech crime” and deportation, ECLN Essays, 2005

Fadoua Bouali, “De Koran respecteert afvalligheid”,de Volkskrant 15/6, 2007, pag. 11

Max Pam, “Beweringen & Bewijzen: De Koran is juist zeer vijandig tegen afvalligen”, de Volkskrant 18/6, 2007, pag. 7

Frank van Hoorn,Vrijheid van meningsuiting kent grenzen,Elzevier, november 2005

�Anonymous’, Muslims, show some more respect !, Volkskrant 10/6, 2008

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