Monday, 8 October 2018

"There is no pride in being Dutch"

In the Netherlands, May 4 is Remembrance Day and May 5 is Liberation Day.
The Dutch dead from the Second World War and later conflicts are remembered, and the liberation from Nazi Germany is celebrated.

The Netherlands used to be inhabited by people born there or born in a (former) Dutch colony.
These people could relate to the commemorations of important events in recent Dutch history.

Then the, mainly Muslim, immigrants came.
They were “victims” of the west and certainly did not relate to these Dutch events. The remembrance of Dutch Jews (more than half of the war dead) was also a sore point.

Was not this remembering and celebrating too nationalistic?
For some it was. They proposed that every ethnic group remember their own dead and celebrate their own liberation on the two days.

In practice, these ethnic groups already commemorated the national remembrance and liberation days of the countries they came from.
Now on May 4 and May 5 they could have second commemorations.
They have the Dutch nationality and live in the Netherlands, but there is no need for them to commemorate Dutch events.

Many ethnic Moroccan youths used to hang out on the streets of the Diamond neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
In their Moroccan sub-culture the house is a place for the women and there are strict rules there.
On the streets they rule.

The youth workers of the Dutch organization “Streetcornerwork” were specialized in working with these “at risk” youths, who were also responsible for much of the harassment and bullying in the neighbourhood.

As I was supposed to write the local government’s policy for these youths, I thought it would be a good idea to meet some.
Joost said he would take me around their hanging-out places in the evening.
It was winter and that evening was very cold. I said to Joost, ”it is too cold for the youths”.
He said they would be there, and he was right.

There were three youths hanging out, doing nothing, in front of a shop door.
They knew and trusted Joost. As I was with him they were friendly towards me.
I said to them, “Look, you were born and bred here. Why do you still say you are Moroccan and not Dutch?”
One of the youths replied, “There is no pride in being Dutch”.

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