More Young Dutch Muslims Are Travelling To Mecca For the annual Hadj

With the annual Hajj starting on the 30th of August this year, the Dutch pilgrims have become increasingly younger. In the past, the Hajj was usually undertaken by elderly Muslims. Nowadays, elderly Muslims are still the main age group among Hajj pilgrims, but there has been an increase in younger Muslims fulfilling this important religious obligation. Marjo Buitelaar, a Dutch academic on contemporary Islam, has done research on the developments regarding the Hajj and also noticed this important shift in age demographics.

“The pilgrimage used to be seen mainly as a final religious obligation one had to fullfill, and ask for forgiveness of the sins you have committed. Young Muslims also feel the need for this, but because they are standing in the midst of life, they experience the Hajj and the period after differently,” Buitelaar stated. She added that young people are practicing their faith more and do not longer want to wait until they are in their sixties and seventies before fulfilling this religious obligation. In addition, she believes that not only is the individualization of religion a factor in these new developments, but ‘identity issues’ are also playing a role: as most young Dutch Muslims have a Moroccan or Turkish ethnical background, they are confronted with questions as to where they belong. Since they are not  only not fully accepted in the Netherlands, but also not in Morocco or Turkey, they appreciate the feeling of being ‘just’ a Muslim in Saudi-Arabia.

A few travel agencies can attest to the fact that more young Dutch Muslims are deciding to set out for the pilgrimage. Zaakaria Bouhkim, a 29-year-old Muslim from Amsterdam, runs a travel agency with his father. While they guide a group of 235 pilgrims to Mecca this year, Bouhkim also noticed that the pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger. He states that more than half of these pilgrims are younger than 40 years old. In addition, he claims that the ‘umrah is becoming increasingly popular among young Dutch Muslims. He believes that a lower threshold to go to Mecca is contributing to the trend. In addition, the younger Muslims with these ethnic backgrounds have more money than their parents had, which also contributes to a lower threshold. Naoufal El Ghaouty, the owner of travel agency Diwan Travel, has about 200 people going with him to Mecca each year. He confirms that the typical Dutch pilgrim is getting younger: “In the past, only ten or fifteen percent of the pilgrims were young people, now that has become between forty and fifty percent: a big difference.”

Because the Dutch Muslim pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger, the travel agencies see the need to change their offer accordingly. They offer outings for example; like crossing through the desert with squad cars. It also becomes clear that there is a strong influence of social media in how these young Dutch Muslims experience their Hajj. Muslims post ‘snaps’ on Snapchat for example, where one can temporarily share images and video’s. A young Muslim from Rotterdam, the 20-year-old Hoedayfa Flillou, also agrees that social media plays an important role in the contemporary Hajj experience of young Dutch Muslims. He claims that young Muslims have more access to actual images of the Hajj through social media, because of the ‘selfies’ young Muslims make when they are in Mecca. He also believes that the modern Mecca has become more attractive city-wise for young Muslims, with the new buildings that have been built.

Sources:
https://nos.nl/artikel/2190474-je-hoeft-niet-meer-zestig-te-zijn-om-naar-de-hajj-te-gaan.html https://fd.nl/werk-en-geld/1212837/verplicht-op-reis https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/steeds-meer-jongeren-naar-mekka-ze-zijn-nieuwsgierig-geworden-door-selfies-van-anderen

Half of Muslims sees no place for democracy in Islam

Wednesday February 25th there was a public hearing on radicalization and jihadism in the Dutch parliament. There, Paul Scheffer, specialized in integration issues, stated that according to a big minority and perhaps a majority of Dutch Muslims democracy and Islam do not fit together. Scheffer is basing himself on a research conducted by Ruud Koopmans. On the other side, ‘native’ Dutch people see no place for Islam in their democracy.

Thus a question arises: “How does one from an islamic standpoint relates to democracy and how relates democracy itself towards new religions?”

According to Scheffer authorities and educational institutions lack the promotion of freedom for everyone. “If the Muslim community states: you should be accepting towards us, I say: Yes, but are you also accepting towards the Dutch society? This is a fair question. Are you then also accepting the equality between man and woman and do you accept homosexuals in our community?”
He also thinks that part of radicalization can be explained because of inconsistence when it comes to the norms of freedom. The Netherlands is preaching freedom, but has at the same time Saudi Arabia as its ally.

Representatives from the Muslim community disagreed during the hearing on their responsibility against radicalization and jihadism in the Netherlands. According to Ibrahim Wijbenga (youth worker) the Muslim community should speak out more clearly against jihadism and radicalization. Politician Selcuk Őztürk disagrees with him. Said Idbid, board member of the Ibn Khattab mosque in the city of Almere says he is already trying for years to keep youth from radicalizing. He thinks that youth becomes radicalized because of ideological and theological convictions, but according to Latifa Bakrimi from the Hague municipality a lack of perspectives also play a role. Habib El Kaddouri from the Collaboration Dutch Moroccans says what is needed is to invest in prevention.

Dutch Vice Prime Minister Asscher Lodewijk: “Task of Muslim community to bar hate imams”

Minister of Integration and Vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher thinks it is also a responsibility of the Dutch Muslim community the bar preachers of hate from the Netherlands. He has stated that he sees it as a task for Dutch Muslims to not invite these characters. The minister has stated so after a meeting with Muslimas in Amsterdam.

According to the minister a role might be played by Islamic organizations that are united in the CMO (English: Contact Organization for Muslims and Government). “They can make sure these creeps will not be invited and can alert the government when these kinds of imams come to the Netherlands,” Asscher said.

If it were to the minister these “hate imams” would not be given entrance to the Netherlands. Their coming does not help in the protection of Muslim youth against “the poison that they spread.” We cannot purify the society totally from this hatred,” Asscher said. “But we can make the youth more able to defend itself.”

New Political Party Established by Dutch Muslims

Two former Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid) members – Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk – have established a new political party called “Denk” (English: Think). The two parliamentary members left the Labour Party after a conflict about the integration policies of the party.

Kuzu says in an interview with the Dutch news paper Het Parool: “We’re implementing an integration policy in this country while it has only resulted in the fact that we are further apart then ever.” Öztürk: “The Labour Party has a Minister of Integration, we want a Minister of Acceptation.” Kuzu again: “In the Netherlands there are many more people who should accept integrated people than there are people who are supposed to integrate.”

Open the link below to read the whole interview (in Dutch):

http://www.parool.nl/parool/nl/224/BINNENLAND/article/detail/3847611/2015/02/09/Ex-PvdA-ers-komen-met-nieuwe-partij-in-een-naar-Geert-Wilders-gevormde-wereld.dhtml

Dutch Muslims speak out: #notmyislam

Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”.  The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people. (Image: Nietmijnislam/Facebook)
Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”. The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people. (Image: Contemporary Bart (Artist)/Nietmijnislam/Facebook)

Dutch Muslims have initiated a Facebook project to reclaim what they perceive as true Islam in the aftermath of the recent attacks in France. The project is called “#nietmijnislam”, which means “not my Islam”. The initiators of the project encourage Muslims to post videos in which they explain why the attacks in Paris do not represent their Islam. The page was liked by almost 30.000 people.

In a statement on the page the initiators write (among other things): “Enough is enough. We have gotten enough of those who have hijacked our religion of peace. Of those who mutilate our religion of harmony with their extreme ideas and interpretations. Those who threaten and hurt us, Muslims and non-Muslims, because we refuse to live like them. These persons and groups claim that their violent deeds are justified by Islam. That dangerous and erroneous interpretation of Islam expresses itself in intolerance, force, and violence.”

“We speak out against the ideas and deeds of extremists who commit these act in name of our Islam. We do this because it is our responsibility to protect our religion agains those who misuse and violate Islam. We refuse to be associated with the murderers who claim that their horrifying deeds must be done in name of Islam. To them we cry out: ‘This is not my Islam.’”

The full statement can be read here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nietmijnislam/429679170522852

Prominent Dutch academic critiques minister’s plans to ban “sharia parties”

A majority of parties in the Dutch House of Representatives have agreed on the desirability of a ban for political parties based on the Islamic sharia law. A bill that suggested so was put forward by the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and supported by the two parties currently in the government, the Labour Party (PvdA) and the Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). It was also supported by the Christian Union (CU) and the Political Reformed Party (SGP). The Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has expressed his willingness to investigate possibilities within Dutch law that would support such a ban.

The bill has been criticized by emeritus professor of integration and migration studies Han Entzinger. He posed that it is unclear what Muslims mean by sharia and that many diverse interpretations of it exist. He suggested that some interpretations of sharia might contain aspects that are in conflict with democracy. Alluding to the ban on extreme right parties such as the Centre Party ‘ 86 (CP ’86) in the nineties he suggested that it might in fact be possible to ban parties with an undemocratic character.

Entzinger suggested however that it remains questionable if such a threat is really at hand. He maintains that the majority of Dutch Muslims are not proponents of the implementation of Islamic sharia law in the Netherlands. He fears that the current discussion on a ban will unnecessarily enhance the already existing polarization in Dutch society, thus enhancing stigmatization of Muslims and xenophobia amongst Dutch natives. Entzinger also suggested that since such political parties are currently not in existence in the Netherlands the whole discussion could be seen as an example of “symboolpolitiek” (politics based on symbolism) as a prelude to the Dutch elections.

Perspectives on Being Muslim in Dutch Society [Video]

The Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur (News Hour) has dedicated a special program to Muslim perspectives on integration and Islam in the

Unidentified muslims visit Keukenhof, South Netherlands.
Muslim women visit Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, Netherlands.

Netherlands. Middle East reporter Jan Eikelboom and editor Milena Holdert for several months interviewed Dutch Muslims on issues related to Islam currently debated on in Dutch society.

In Dutch media coverage about Islam the Muslim perspective is seldom portrayed. In an attempt to discover how Muslims themselves think about current issues such as integration and Islamophobia in the Netherlands the program interviewed a wide array of Muslims with different ethnic backgrounds and also Dutch converts to Islam.

The program in addition shows a debate on integration between parliamentary member Malik Azmani of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Nourdin el Ouali, the political leader of the young and upcoming local Islamic Party NIDA.

[Click here to view film.]

Doubts about research: are Turkish Dutch fan of jihad?

According to the research 87% of the by Motivaction interviewed people (18-34 years) is happy with support from Dutch Muslims for IS and they don’t want the Dutch government to prevent them. However, they also don’t believe in prosperity without democracy and don’t believe in a caliphate. But groups of jihadi’s do establish some welcoming changes in the region. Turkish youth seem to be much more positive about IS and the ‘holy war’ in Syria and Iraq than their Moroccan counterparts.

Minister of Social Affairs and Employment and vice premier, Asscher expressed his worries about the research, explaining that he already was worried about the Turkish community who according to him, does not seem to feel ‘at home’ in the Netherlands. But the next day he was somehow doubtful about the research because of its inconsistencies. How can this youth support IS-fighters, but at the same time be against a caliphate and for democracy? He questioned.
Ahmet Kaya, PhD researcher used an own inquiry among Turkish Dutch people. According to his research, 90% of the more than 1000 respondents condemn IS-violence. Kaya admits he cannot control if the respondents are part of the target group, since the inquiry was done online, but the results do correlate with the ideas he experiences around himself.

According to Kaya the research done by Motivaction should not be taken seriously. Verheggen, Motivaction-researcher disagrees and says that nuances in a research are very easy to get lost. Being against Assad, does not automatically mean that you’re supportive of a caliphate. A possible explanation for the (so-called) support of Turkish youth for IS might be the Turkish media, that is often pro-Erdogan and anti-Assad. Verheggen says this is however not completely clear and is pleased with more thorough research.

“Deradicalization” Process Offered to Dutch Muslim Fighters Returning from Syria

November 8, 2013

 

Following press coverage about Dutch Muslims traveling to Syria to join armed struggle, television programme EenVandaag reports on the fate of those who return to the Netherlands. The Dutch Muslim fighters who have to date returned from Syria have not been arrested and prosecuted but have been given a job or course and accommodation.

An estimated 20 men have returned from Syria and have been taken up in ‘deradicalization’ courses on return to the Netherlands. The program involves finding the men training and jobs, and arranging homes for them if necessary.

The Netherlands is thus diverging from Belgium, where returning fighters are immediately arrested and prosecuted.

 

NIS Newshttp://www.nisnews.nl/returning-jihadists-not-arrested-but-helped.html

Sixth Dutch Muslim Dies in Syria

20 September 2013

 

An 18 year old man fighting with rebel forces in Syria has become the sixth Dutch person to be killed in the conflict. Soufyan el H, who told his parents he was going to work in a hospital, was shot in the head during a gun battle with government forces.

According to the Volkskrant newspaper, officials estimate between 50 and 100 Dutch Muslims have travelled to Syria to join the conflict, but Muslim community sources place the number higher.