Identity and assimilation

"Don't worry, this is active integration. We will take care that also people from war zones will feel completely at home here!"
In reaction to my post about political correctness, an Orkuter (Stefan) replied: “Esther, although it seemed entirely plausible a few years ago, by now we have to admit that there is no common future between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

I asked what he saw as a solution then for instance for cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where half of the city consist of immigrants, among whom many are Muslim, how can they not have a common future with non-Muslims?

Then Stefan said:
My proposal would be quite simple:

I said then that I hoped that Stefan would never have the power to establish these rules. I would not want to live in a country with this kind of rules with protected private zones, a lot of violence outside these zones and a general atmosphere of suspicion towards Muslims.

I think that there is no other possible way than to strive for a peaceful common future with Muslims and non-Muslims together, in cities like Rotterdam. An inclusive approach is required, because social exclusion leads to frustration and anger, and support for extremism will grow and the problems of the multicultural society will become much bigger. When the natives have a negative image of immigrants as a whole, the immigrants will start to behave more and more according to the negative image from the natives. When people feel that they are not accepted in the country where they live and if the chance is double as big for their group to be unemployed than for natives, they will protest and turn their back towards the society. In that way at both sides the hate and violence will grow.

To decrease hate and violence, inclusion is needed. No “us” vs “them” but an inclusive “us”, us the alliance of the moderates, us natives and immigrants together.

I am organizing a youth project in Rotterdam, and in that project, to work on a common future with chances and perspectives for everybody, is one of the main aims. (See

It is interesting to see how the project encourages integration without the need to use force towards assimilation. The participants from Rotterdam are originally mainly from Morocco and Turkey. But in this project they represent the Netherlands. They will guide the guests from abroad through the Netherlands. Then they are saying: “Our friends are coming from abroad and we will show them our country, our culture: the windmills, the cheese market, Madurodam, etc.” They don’t have to prepare couscous when they prepare a dinner for the Dutch evening, since that will probably be prepared already by the Moroccans on the Moroccan evening. It’s not that they should let go of their roots, they have different identities at the same time and they can keep them all. But like this they are no longer in the corner of the excluded, the “them” who “don’t belong here”, who should “go back to their own country”. And there is nothing wrong with Morocco, the Moroccan participants will proudly present their own country and the Rotterdam youth can be proud that there parents are from the same country.

And we are looking if it is possible for some of my Orkut friends in London to take part in the project, since it’s not sure yet if the partner organisation in Cardiff will be able to find enough participants themselves. My London friends from Orkut are originally from Pakistan. It was funny, they said: “We would like it very much to participate in the project, but we are not from any of the countries which are participating in the project. We don’t know enough about English traditional stuff to represent the UK, we don’t fit in any team.” But they don’t have to present native English traditional things only. The culture of Pakistani living in London (and other groups) is also part of the UK country and culture. And there won’t be a lack of “traditional stuff” from the UK, that can be brought by the participants from Cardiff (but maybe they prefer to bring “modern stuff” instead of “traditional stuff” ;-) ).

And it would be strange if the Orkuters don’t know anything about the country where they have lived for a pretty long time already, it should not be too hard to represent the country where they live.

It’s interesting to see how people identify with different groups; which country and culture they consider to be their own. As U2 sings it in “Summer Rain”: “It’s not where you were born, it’s where you belong”. (And where your parents were born doesn't determine where you belong neither.) It would be great if we can help young immigrants - in this case in the Netherlands, France and UK - to encourage their feeling of belonging in Europe and to help them to find their way through education and on the labour market.

wow Esther I had no Idea you were this good at writing and analytical thought I will be returning to read more
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