Eclectic Grounds

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Posts Tagged ‘Netherlands

Despite crisis, more tolerance toward immigrants and Muslim citizens

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Contrary to the 2008 “Racism and Extremism Monitor” in the Netherlands which observed a hightening negative climate towards Muslims (see my post here), the latest quarterly survey by the Social Cultural Planing Office has revealed a changing attitude of the Dutch towards immigrants.

Over the last 3 months, the amount of people stating that the Netherlends would be better off if it had fewer immigrants sunk from 41 to 35%. The number of people who see a presence of different cultures as an asset increased  from 36 to 44%.

At the same time, a student initiative made headlines that handed out 5,000 headscarfs in orange, the Dutch national colour, for the Queen’s Day celebrations on April 30. Their goal was “to allow Muslim women to express loyalty to their faith as well as to the queen.

Source: Radio Netherlands [1] [2], via Crossroads.

Politics of citizenship and language: “Allochtoon” becomes “bicultural”

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The Dutch government seems to have adopted a new terminology for ethnic minorities in the Netherlands. The term “bicultural” is now used in official communication rather than “allochtoon” for people of non-Dutch (or rather non-white) ethnicities. In February, the organisation Innovation for Integration will start a media campaign to promote the term.

The word bicultural is a positive counterpart for the word allochtoon,” Yesim Candam, the Turkish founder of IVI, said last year. “We used to say ‘guest labourer’, ‘new Dutch’ or ‘allochtoon’. ‘Bicultural’ is the first term that expresses the fact that two cultures are more than one!”

 

I am Antoon - I am Allochtoon

"I am Antoon" - "I am Allochtoon"

The term “allochtoon” has become widely used in the Netherlands for people of non-Dutch descent. In popular use, the term is only applied to non-whites, such as people with Turkish or Moroccan ancestry. The Dutch bureau of statistics makes a differentiation between “western” and “non-western” allochtoons in their census categories. While the state agency refers to “allochtoons” only to first- and second-generation immigrants, in everyday usage all non-white people are seen as “allochtoon”.

 

Historian Ian Buruma described the term “allochtoon” as “an ugly, and relatively new, bureaucratic term for people of alien, but more specifially non-European, origin”. It’s an example of how citizenship in Europe is often defined racially. Like in most European countries, citizenship law in the Netherlands is based on the “jus sanguinis” principle (literally: right of blood”). It confers citizenship rights based on the belonging to the national community of the Dutch, whatever that might look like. 

The introduction of the term “biculturalism” is another step toward recognising that citizenship should be based on political principles rather than ethnic and racial fault lines. 

Source: Crossroads Magazine

Muslim ‘hate monger’ preaches peace

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There has been considerable controversy about a speech by Khalid Yasin at the Islamic University Rotterdam over the last few days. The Islamic lecturer is a notorious figure who in the past was quoted saying that, according to the Qu’ran, homosexuality was an immorality punishable by death, and also that the US was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the development of the AIDS virus. Before his speech yesterday, some politicians in the Netherlands demanded from the government to deny Yasin entry into the country.

Quite surprisingly then, his actual message was one of peace and understanding between Muslims and Non-Muslims. He did condemn Geert Wilders and the likes but he also had a message directed at Dutch Muslims.

The NRC Handelsblad quotes this sections from his speech about Muslim youth in the Netherlands:

Yasin, who converted to Islam after being inspired by Malcolm X, expressed criticism for the Dutch Muslim community, which he said is not doing well. No wonder, then, that Dutch people talk about “those Moroccan youths,” according to Yasin. He also criticised pious, fundamentalist Muslims. “Don’t be so full of your own righteousness. Islam is not a religion of hermits.”

He also called for integration efforts and understanding between believers and non-believers:

Indeed, he said, “Western society offered Muslims the best possibilities for development.” He said, paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, “This nation wants to know what one million Dutch Muslims can do for their country.” He also warned Dutch Muslim youth: “Don’t come to me with the nonsense that you won’t obey the kafirs (non-believers).”

This is not to forget Yasin’s previous remarks about homosexuals, but it has to be said that it is quite refreshing to have a Muslim authority speaking so self-critically and with such candour to Muslims. Where are Muslim voices from within Europe who speak in this way? I have met some personally. But either they are not heard in the Muslim community or they are ignored by the media.

Update (2-2-09): The blog ‘Salafi Burnout’ has an interesting discussion on Yasin here, on his alleged scams, his conspiracy theories and on how he is seen by Muslim communities in the US, Australia and Britain.