The Dutch newspaper Het Parool has stated that among Dutch Jihad participants just a small percentage are Dutch citizens with a Turkish cultural background. But it also suggested that “all the ingredients for radicalization among the Turkish-Dutch community are present.” Terrorism expert Edwin Bakker estimates that approximately 15 to 20 have a Turkish-Dutch cultural background out of a total of 200 to 250 Jihad participants. Around 80 percent has a Moroccan cultural background, Bakker states.
Het Parool further suggested that while the Turkish-Dutch community struggles with high percentages of unemployment and social-economic arrears there is also an observable increase in interest for Islam. An additional factor is the frontline of the Syrian war that borders on Turkey were Turkish-Dutch citizens have relations and speak the language.
According the Het Parool experts explain the low contribution of Dutch Turks by alluding to the strong social control in the Turkish community. Bakker states “I know of one case of a Turkish-Dutch boy that nearly crossed the border with Syria when he stopped his journey under pressure of his family. Otherwise they would come and get him. This is a typical type of pressure we can observe in the Turkish community.”
In a letter to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant this week, a group of Dutch Turkish professionals expressed concern regarding the position of youth in the community. According to the letter, a growing number of young Dutch Turks feel they are “second class citizens and will remain so”, an exclusion which has perpetuated feelings of apathy and encouraged a turn to crime and radical Islam among the contingent. The open letter drafted by a group of teachers, researchers and civil servants urges the government to ensure that the youth get the education and leadership they need.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide covers the issue with a commentary indicating that the disintegration of a close knit Turkish community safety net in the Netherlands results from an ageing first generation immigrant population and lack of funding and subsidies to community organizations, and claims that those who are well educated often “return” to Turkey, thus “turning their backs” on upcoming generations of Dutch Turkish youth in need of role models.
Policy makers in the Netherlands concerned with the effect of the country’s anti-Islam mood on relations with the Muslim world have organized a series of PR trips to the Netherlands for journalists from Muslim countries. In early December a group of Turkish journalists was brought to the Netherlands, whose reports are now appearing. A journalist for the paper Milliyet reports that “Nearly all the talks were about Dutch Turks, about the political developments and about Wilders… the Dutch wanted to show in particular how things were going well with the integration of the Turks”. While it is difficult to estimate the effect of the trip, Turkish television has broadcast a report about the growing Islamophobia in the Netherlands in its aftermath.
December 8 2010
The Dutch government has reassured Turkey that the country’s governing coalition does not share politician Geert Wilders’understanding of Islam, reinforcing the freedom for Dutch-Turks to practice their religion. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal spoke to a group of Turkish journalists to clarify the stance of his government on the issue, following discussions with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahment Davutoglu during the NATO Summit last month.