Moslims in de EU

Nieuws | de redactie
4 april 2007 |

In de EU leven 20 miljoen moslims. In hoeverre worden zij betrokken bij beleidsprocessen, en in welke mate houden overheden rekening met hun belangen? De Open Society Institute heeft de situatie voor Nederland in kaart gebracht. Het rapport over Nederland vindt u hier.


In the Netherlands there are approximately 1 million Muslims, representing 5.8 per cent of the total population. The largest groups are people with origins in Morocco or Turkey , who make up over 75 per cent of the Muslim population. Immigration from these countries started with the arrival of labour migrants in the 1960s and 1970s, but numbers subsequently increased through family reunifications. Other important groups are the Surinamese Muslims and, particularly from the 1990s, refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Bosnia , Somalia, Iran , Pakistan and Afghanistan. Official Dutch statistics do not include data on religious affiliation. However, there are official data on ‘immigrants’ — allochtonen (literally ‘non-natives’), people who have at least one parent who was born abroad, and who may or may not have Dutch citizenship — and this is the main source of data in this report. It should be noted, therefore, that in this report terms such as ‘Turks’ or ‘Moroccans’ refer to people who have origins in these countries, and not exclusively to those who have Turkish or Moroccan nationality. Most Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands are first- or second- generation immigrants, and over half have Dutch citizenship. There is a marked difference in how the first and second generations perceive their religious identities. The first generation retains strong links to their national identity, while the second generation is more likely to view their shared religion, Islam, as being of more importance than a shared origin and language. Non-Western immigrants in the Netherlands are traditionally concentrated in the four major cities — Amsterdam , Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague — where they make up an overall 30 per cent of the population. They tend to be concentrated in segregated neighbourhoods, which suffer from problems of deterioration and high levels of crime. The concentration of underprivileged immigrants is likely to be exacerbated in future, as the native Dutch — and increasingly also the immigrant — middle-class population move out to the city suburbs. This phenomenon is expected to have significant affects on the school population and the labour markets in those cities. In particular, it will mean that there will be even less interaction between the non-Western immigrants and the native Dutch. Already today, 70 per cent of the Turks and 60 per cent of the Moroccans associate predominantly with members of their own ethnic group, while two thirds of the native population have little or no contact at all with immigrants.

The educational attainment levels of non-Western immigrants in the Netherlands are significantly lower than for native Dutch. Turkish and Moroccan students are more likely to drop out of school and are overrepresented in the less academic strands of secondary education. However, the second generation is better educated than the first generation, and in the last 15 years, the average educational level of non- Western immigrants has increased faster than that of the native Dutch. There is some evidence of discrimination within the educational system, with issues relating to dress codes and the wearing of the hijab (headscarf) proving particularly controversial. Muslim denominational schools are financed by the Government, and in 2006 there were 46 Muslim primary schools and two Muslim secondary schools.

The lower educational attainment levels of immigrants in turn impacts on their employment situation. The labour market position of Muslims is precarious, with just one third of Moroccans and half of Turks having a salaried job. Unlike the Moroccans, the Turks are more likely to be self-employed and to have their own businesses. The average household incomes of Moroccans and Turks are more than one third lower than for the native Dutch. Their unemployment rates are also elevated: 27 per cent for Moroccans and 21 per cent for Turks, as compared to 9 per cent for the native Dutch. However, a middle class is beginning to emerge. There is evidence of a move towards higher level jobs in the younger generation, due mainly to their higher educational levels.

Studies have revealed both direct and indirect discrimination in the labour market. In the selection process, for example, many companies use subjective criteria regarding the personality or attitude of the candidate, which can be disadvantageous for non-Western immigrants. There are also differences in the way in which non-Western immigrants and the native Dutch seek employment. Non- Western immigrants often look for work within their own ethnic group, using a network of family members, friends or relations, which channels them into lower paid employment. Employers also prefer to use their own informal channels

to recruit. With respect to Muslims specifically, it seems that, in the workplace, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have become more complex since 11 September. Complaints focus on reduced tolerance towards the wearing of the hijab, prayer opportunities, or of Muslims in general.

There is only limited information on the health situation of Muslims, specifically. However, it seems that their poorer socio- economic status does have an impact. The Turkish and Moroccan elderly are often in a worse health situation than the native Dutch elderly. Lifestyle factors can also play a role; for example, there is a particularly high mortality risk among adult Turkish males, who suffer from an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

The Netherlands has extensive legislation to combat discrimination and racism. However,   there has been growing concern about acts of violence targeting Muslims. Following September 11, there was an increase in the number of reported incidents, including vandalism and acts of aggression against Muslims and Islamic symbols. There were also a number of violent incidents after the assassination of Theo van Gogh in November 2004. The most dramatic incident of anti-Muslim violence the destruction by fire of a Muslim primary school in Uden in December 2004, which led Dutch politicians to publicly speak out against the attacks against Muslims.

There is only limited information on the experiences of Muslims in relation to criminal justice and policing. Despite targeted recruitment policies, the number of police officers with an immigrant background remains low, and police officers from an immigrant background report encountering a discriminatory atmosphere at work. Even in the major cities, employees with an immigrant background make up only around 6 per cent police staff. By contrast, at the other end of the judicial system, the situation is completely different, with non-natives overrepresented in the crime statistics. Although statistics on Muslims and criminality are not available, it is known that Turks and Moroccans are disproportionately registered by the police as suspects of a crime. In the prisons, one third of all prisoners are non-Western immigrants, while 20 per cent describe themselves as Muslim. Following the 2003 elections, the Lower House of Parliament has at least ten members from Muslim backgrounds (out of 150 members). Levels of political participation vary among the Muslim communities. While the turnout of Turks at local elections is equal to, or even larger than, that of the native Dutch, Moroccans have a smaller turnout than the native Dutch. Turks also have more confidence in political institutions than Moroccans. This is thought to reflect the fact that Turks have more social capital than other ethnic communities, which tends to encourage political participation and political trust. In comparison to Moroccans, Turks have more organisations and the networks between these organisations are closer.

Muslim organisations have succeeded in becoming among the most important organisations of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants. In the Netherlands, Muslim organisations were initially  mainly mosque organisations that tried to meet the basic needs of Muslim immigrants, such as for prayer rooms, religious leaders and teahouses. However, from the 1980s the mosque organisations broadened their activities and subsequently achieved a strong presence in civil society. This was thanks to the existing legislation and the protection of freedom of religion, as well as the right to claim municipal subsidies. From the early 1980s, a number of important measures were taken to allow for Islamic practice and rituals, including with respect to ritual slaughtering, the call to prayer, the recognition of Muslim festivals and dietary rules (notably in the armed services and prisons), and the adjustment of legislation on funerary practices to allow for Islamic traditions.  The Dutch authorities have long shown an interest in developing and maintaining good relations with Muslim organisations. Consultations with representatives of Muslim organisations offer the opportunity to establish the main issues of concern and to reach agreement on policy proposals by means of deliberation and dialogue, particularly with respect to integration policy and the fight against radicalism. As in other countries, official policy has been to encourage Muslim organisations to form representative organisations or coordinating bodies, with approachable spokesmen. However, Muslim communities in the Netherlands do not form a coherent community, and remain splintered along ethnic and  religious lines. This has made it difficult for these organisations to increase their political legitimacy.

Discussions about the integration into Dutch society of immigrants in general, and of Muslims specifically, have become much more heated in recent years. Since the beginning of the 1990s, a significant section of the Dutch population has had a negative opinion about the presence of immigrants. In general, opinions about the multi-ethnic society have become more negative — and particularly opinions about Muslims. The 2004 murder of the Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh focused public and media attention on the question of the radicalisation of young Dutch Muslims. Previously, policy makers had assumed that young
Muslims would become more secular, and would look for less traditional forms of Islamic religiosity and practice than those of their parents. However, this perception has now changed dramatically.

The political discourse concerning Islam has also become sharper in recent years. A number of right-wing national politicians (including Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders) as well as local politicians (notably in Rotterdam) have become very visible in the Dutch media because of their statements on Islam. There has also been a change in national policy on integration.

From 2000 on, there has been much discussion on the supposed failures of Dutch integration policies. The levels of socio- economic, geographical and cultural segregation in Dutch cities have been assessed by some as being far deeper than anyone dared to say. Between 2002 and 2006, successive governments have pushed for more restrictive policies towards immigration and has also developed several policies have to make integration of newcomers more mandatory and demanding, also in the domain of culture.

EUMAP project

The EUMAP project Muslims in the EU: Cities Reports focuses on the situation of Muslims in eleven selected major cities across the EU with significant Muslim populations. It will look in particular at the extent to which local policy addresses their needs and seeks to include them in the policy-making process. In each selected city, monitoring will focus on the following general areas:

consultation and participation social protection: covering access to social services in general, with a particular focus on housing and healthcare education employment safety and security More than 20 million Muslims currently reside within the European Union (EU). Citizens and migrants, native born and newly-arrived, they are a growing and varied population that presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges: how to ensure equal rights for all in a climate of rapidly expanding diversity.

Most communities are the result of economic migration in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, Muslims have arrived as refugees seeking asylum. The economic impetus for the initial phase of migration is reflected in Muslim settlement patterns. Thus, the majority initially settled in the capital cities and in large industrial areas. The concentration of Muslims in these areas ensures that while the overall Muslim population in each state remains low, they are a significant and visible presence in particular cities and neighbourhoods.

The need to develop policies that meet the needs of Muslims in Europe has moved on to the political agenda for a number of reasons:

Demographic trends indicate that a significant proportion of the growth in the Europe’s population over the next decade will be within Muslim communities. Government policies must develop and adjust to ensure that they meet the needs of Muslims. There has been growing official acknowledgement of prejudice and discrimination against Muslim communities. Recent studies indicate severe levels of disadvantage experienced by sections of the Muslim communities in the EU; these are among the most impoverished and disadvantaged commnities, suffering from poor levels of educational achievement, employment, income, housing and health. Muslim community groups and politicians are campaigning for governments to address issues of concern to them. There has been unprecedented scrutiny and focus on Muslim communities following the attacks Madrid and London, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the riots in France in November 2005. A preliminary phase of the project was initiated in May 2006 and is now complete. This focused on the selection of the countries and cities that would be a priority to include in the monitoring, as well as refining the project methodology.

Selection of countries to monitor

The following seven EU countries were selected to include in the monitoring project: Belgium , Denmark , France , Germany , Netherlands , Sweden , and the United Kingdom .

Selection of cities to monitor:

This new monitoring project, Muslims in the EU: Cities Reports, will focus on the situation of Muslims in 11 selected major cities across the EU with significant Muslim populations. Two cities were selected from each of the following countries: France, Germany , the Netherlands and the UK , and one city each from Belgium, Denmark and Sweden .

The selection of the cities to include in the monitoring was made on the basis of a number of criteria, including population size, population diversity and political context.

Background research reports
To enable the selection of cities to include in the monitoring, as well as to finalise the methodology for the monitoring, it was decided to gather comprehensive background information in the seven selected countries in the preliminary stage of the project. To this end, background research reports were commissioned on each of the selected countries.

The background research reports have been prepared by experts from each of the selected countries, based on a common methodology. The research papers are based on a comprehensive review of the existing literature on Muslims in the selected country, and include an annex of relevant recent literature (from 1996 on), whether in English or other languages.

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