The changing political climate in the Netherlands

Below is a text I published at Orkut in the International Relations community.

A friend asked me (in my scrapbook) if I could, as an insider, give my view to the present situation in the Netherlands with regard to radicalisation of the Islam.

In fact I prefer to post here about a slightly different but related topic. Radicalisation is taking place, and I don't know exactly at which scale. I think that not only some Muslims become more radical (on a small scale still), but I think that radicalisation can also be found among other groups in the population. If Muslims or immigrants in general tend to turn back more to their original religion / culture, this doesn't happen without any reason. I think it's mainly due to a changing political climate in the Netherlands and in the world at large (but in the Netherlands it's more extreme than in most other (European) countries. There was an article in my newspaper one week ago about how expats experience their lives as strangers in the Netherlands. There were many complaints, especially about the lack of tolerance, despite the myth that the Netherlands would be such a tolerant country. That article was followed by many letters from readers who confirmed that the Netherlands aren't tolerant at all nowadays. A man from Portugal wrote that he was first just himself, something like 7 years ago, when he came here, then he became "Portugese" in the eyes of his surroundings, something like 5 years ago, and now he is only considered to be an "allochtoon" (non-Dutch person, immigrant, foreigner) and he doesn't like that at all, he thinks about leaving the Netherlands now. I will post here once more a text that I posted some time ago in the Discourse Analysis and Racism community. A former colleague of me at the University of Amsterdam describes how he accompanied his best friend who decided to go back to Turkey, because of the detoriated political climate...

If you want to stop radicalisation of the Islam in the Netherlands, you shouldn't only teach young Muslims in the Netherlands that the Islam is in fact meant in a peaceful way, etc. I think we shouldn't focus only on Muslims who might become radical, I think we should focus on the society as a whole, the society itself shouldn't radicalise, including the Dutch people who tend to radicalise in their dislike of foreigners.

So here is that text of why a Turkish man decided to go back....
My best friend is gone, forever back to Turkey. Five years ago, on the 1 of February he came to the Netherlands. Now we bought his one way ticket to Istanbul together. The lady at the counter asked for a joke: “Will you ever come back?” and he said: “No, I am fed up with it here.” I knew he wasn’t happy here anymore. He missed his family in Turkey and he felt like a stranger from the beginning. Still this was not the reason why he is going back.The real reason was the changed climate in the Netherlands. Cultural differences are being considered as potential problems, actions and choices of people with different backgrounds are constantly measured with the standards of assimilation to the Dutch culture. He couldn’t stand this violent social climate anymore. When watching the news he often got angry about how ethnic groups were stigmatized. He was no Muslim and he didn’t identify himself with Moroccans. He thought that social-political and economical factors caused the problems, not the Islam or cultural differences. Many generalizations were made. He thought that people spoke about others with no respect at all. It was clinical how people spoke about deportation and denationalization. The feeling that he didn’t belong / wasn’t accepted in the Netherlands became stronger and stronger. More and more immigrants don’t feel welcome anymore, even the second and third generations, who are born here. People are still believing the myth that immigrants have the same positions and chances in Dutch society, that they are respected and appreciated and treated as equal citizens, which is not the case. The situation is getting worse soon. People think that foreigners should adapt to the Dutch culture immediately, there is no understanding for people who are homesick or who need some time to get used to new standards and values and a new way of life. Finally this leads to exclusion and isolation.The time that cultural diversity was appreciated has long been gone. One has to fight for a right to be different. My friend is intelligent, he learnt to speak Dutch fluently in one year. He had many Dutch friends. He worked hard. He read both Turkish and Dutch newspapers. He was an example of a successful integration into the Dutch society. But also someone who missed the appreciation for what he did, he missed the personal respect and acceptance from that same society. That’s why he bought a one way ticket to Istanbul.

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