I am passionate aboutPreventing and fighting racism and discrimination seems very important in the
Netherlands. It is so important that even the first article of the Dutch
Constitution is dedicated to this subject. It states:
'All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal
circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political
opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be
However, for many people in the Netherlands being a victim of discrimination,
exclusion or any form of racism, is, unfortunately a harsh everyday reality.
Nearly every year, several reports are published showing how persistent this
These discriminatory and racist mechanisms can be found everywhere: in the
educational system, labour market and housing market. It is a structural
problem. In other words: racism and discrimination affect all areas of life.
It means that people are excluded:
Because they don’t have a Dutch sounding name,
Because they have a ‘different’ skin of colour,
Because they have a ‘different’ religion,
Because they have a ‘different’ sexual orientation and so on.
Discrimination and racism mean that people are not given equal opportunities
which affect their life chances and in the end: quality of life. It means
that people are not treated as equal citizens, but as second-class citizens
and are increasingly dehumanized. Here in the Netherlands we have witnessed
how this dehumanization process developed for people with an allegedly
Islamic background since 9/11 and especially the war on terror. This led to
a rise of islamophobia and several measurements and laws that affect
disproportionately Islamic communities.
Although discrimination and racism -including islamophobia- are persistent,
they are not natural laws. It’s about political choices, policy choices and
human behaviour that can and should be changed.
ActionsIn 2015, just right after the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo we started with
our grassroots initiative Meld Islamofobie (Report Islamophobia). Based on
our own experience after 9/11, we foresaw a backlash against citizens with an
allegedly Islamic background and thus a rise of islamophobic attacks.
However, at that moment there wasn’t any organization collecting
systematically data about islamophobia. So, one of our main goals is to
monitor islamophobia in the Netherlands: how does islamophobia manifests
itself in the Netherlands? What kind of patterns and trends do we see?
We were also concerned about the normalization and acceptance of islamophobia
in the Netherlands. For example: the majority of victims of islamophobia
doesn’t report. To raise awareness and combat this normalization, we
launched our Facebook page
(https://www.facebook.com/MeldpuntIslamofobie/?ref=br_rs) where we shared the
stories of victims and gave citizens a platform where they can raise their
voice. After three years, we have about 11.500 followers.
With our work we want gain more critical knowledge about islamophobia that is
systematically analysed. We take the position that critical knowledge is the
key to campaign successfully against islamophobia and mobilize people.
Based on our collected data, we published in 2016 our first report which
contributed to more knowledge about this topic. For example: we were the
first in the Netherlands showing the gender dimension of islamophobia: mainly
women are the victims and the perpetrators are mainly white males. Our first
report had impact, because several prominent Dutch research institutes
referred to it.
Meld Islamofobie is becoming a leading and prominent voice in the
Netherlands. Our network of relevant stakeholders and allies is expanding. We
often are invited by organizations (e.g. Amnesty International, ENAR) to
speak on stages, to participate in panel discussions and expert meetings, on
both national and international level.