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Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

A study by the Dutch Institute for Social Research shows that almost a quarter of the inhabitants of the Netherlands experienced some sort of discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion and colour. The notion of autochthony was introduced as a policy term in the 1980s and has facilitated ‘primordial’ approach to Dutch identity ever since. It found its extreme form in current political right wing discourse. In the official statements about Islam, Muslims and immigration, Geert Wilders’ PVV (Freedom Party) frequently use the word ‘inferior’ as synonym for the word ‘different .’ Recent initiative to abolish the word “alochtoon” due to its unfavorable, stereotyping (even pejorative) connotations to immigrants may indicate some positive changes towards tolerance in the Dutch society. According to the Volkskrant, the Netherlands is one of the worst countries to be a non-EU citizen looking for a job. Only 49,5% of allochtonen, (the Dutch term for foreigners from a non-western background) are in full employment. Moreover, the descendents of Moroccans, Turks and people of the Dutch Antilles and Surinam are much more likely to be unemployed than Dutch natives.

Since 2011, integration is no longer seen as a responsibility of the government, but instead as a responsibility of the individual citizen. The government’s new integration policy signalled a move away from a multicultural to – what is often called – a mainstreaming approach . One of the central components of this ‘mainstreaming approach’ has been the repeal of the law on the consultation of minorities (Wet Overleg Minderheden). Under this law, the National Consultation of Minorities (Landelijk Overleg Minderheden, LOM) was a statutory dialogue partner of the national government . This meant that the LOM – an umbrella organization that united eight organizations representing the eight largest (ethnic) minority communities in the Netherlands – was consulted on all policies that affect minority communities.

Faced with an increasingly segregated education system, Dutch immigrant children have taken to the streets of their ethnically mixed Amsterdam neighbourhood seeking “white” pupils to attend their schools and help their integration . Around 100 schoolchildren -- Arabs, Turks, Africans, Moroccans -- accompanied by their parents and teachers, wore provocative dazzling white T-shirts emblazoned with “Is this white enough for you?”. The pupils' two schools - De Avonturijn and Catharinaschool - are considered “black” in this ethnically mixed southern Amsterdam neighbourhood, as more than 90 percent of their pupils are from immigrant backgrounds. Marching door to door, the children chanted: “Don't think black, don't think white, don't think black and white: think the colours of your heart.”

There are reports of xenophobic attitudes and stereotypes among the police. Violence is more often used against minority suspects, while crimes reported by minorities are often ignored. 51% of Muslim respondents didn’t feel they were helped or taken serious by the police. One can thus state that anti-Muslim discrimination is a serious issue. The research further delves into the reasons behind the aggression, such as the imaging of Muslims/Islam in the media, lack of knowledge about Islam among the public and reactions to terrorist attacks.

A study conducted by the Government of the Netherlands in the Amsterdam-Amstelland region revealed that police officers make decisions on selective verification of documents or on detention based on profiles of "suspicious citizens". These profiles are largely based on characteristics such as age, color, and ethnic origin. The study concluded that these stereotypes dominate in the relevant police units. As a result, young men (more often than women) from ethnic minorities are subjected to more frequent checks than others.

The most striking confirmation of these results was the sensational detainment of the famous rapper Typhoon. He was stopped by the police, since, as the officer later explained, "a person with such a dark skin cannot drive such an expensive car.”

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