Netherlands: Islamophobia becoming normalized in Dutch society
By Selman Aksunger
AMSTERDAM (AA): Muslims in the Dutch capital Amsterdam think Islamophobia is “becoming increasingly normalized in society,” local media reported Sunday.
An English-language newspaper in the Netherlands, NL Times, reported that a study into Islamophobia conducted by the Amsterdam municipality found that Muslims living in the city regularly face discrimination.
The NL Times reported that researchers in the study found that “respondents believe the normalization of Islamophobia is fueled by the increasing influence of the extreme-right spectrum of politics.”
“The media also plays a role, with many respondents saying that the way Muslims are portrayed has a polarizing effect and contributes to a negative self-image,” it added.
“The Muslim community also has a role in this, with some respondents saying incendiary preachers harm society by magnifying the differences between secular and Muslim Amsterdam.”
Citing a local newspaper, Het Parool, the NL Times said: “They report being unable to find an internship because of their religion, being called names for wearing a headscarf, and facing hate speech on social media without anyone batting an eye, researchers found.”
According to the report, for most respondents, the normalization of Islamophobia was “a major problem in their lives which they can’t defend themselves against.”
“At a certain point, they choose to just ‘learn to live with it,’ the report said, citing researchers. “They added that the study was too small for hard figures but did provide a good insight into how Amsterdam Muslims experience discrimination,” it added.
Islamophobic job market
“In school, children and teenagers are confronted with Islamophobic statements and reactions from pupils and teachers,” the study found, adding nearly all respondents reported problems on finding an internship difficult compared to their “white classmates.”
The trend continues in the job market, the report added, explaining that some respondents of the study reported that they have been “rejected because of their surname and background.”
“They also face ‘completely irrelevant questions’ in job interviews, such as about their feelings about gender relations, terrorism, LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex), or their loyalty to the Netherlands,” the newspaper added. “If they complain, they’re accused of being unable to take a joke or playing the racism card.”
“Women who wear a headscarf say they are regularly called names. Some report being spat on or assaulted,” it added. “In public transport and shops, many Muslims feel they are either ignored or constantly watched by staff because of their appearance.”
Social media is another area where Muslims encounter “so much hate speech that some have decided to develop thick skin,” the report explained. “Others say they’ll never get used to it and find it incomprehensible that this type of discrimination almost always happens with impunity,” it added.
According to the newspaper, the researchers suggest Amsterdam municipality “to do more to hold employers and employment agencies accountable for discrimination”.
Citing alderman Rutger Groot Wassink, the newspaper wrote: “The study makes it clear that Muslim discrimination deeply affects and hinders many Amsterdammers on a daily basis,”
“It contains useful, but also painful insights into their environment, as well as recommendations that are of added value for the municipal policy,” Wassink added.
According to the Hamburg-based data website Statista, around 5% of the Netherlands population are Muslims.
[Archive Photo: Islamic Center in Drachten set alight in February 11, 2018. FACEBOOK]
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