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    Dutch Muslim Women 'Face Racial Oppression'


    Dutch Muslim Women 'Face Racial Oppression'

     By Nasreddine Djebbi, IOL Correspondent

    THE HAGUE, March 15, 2005 ( - Along with the media reports which stereotype them as oppressed under Islam, Muslim women in Holland have other more concerns to worry about, a leading Dutch feminist said.

    It is a sort of clichй and stereotype to say that women are oppressed under Islam, but it is a fact to say that immigrant women in the country - particularly Muslims - are being discriminated against, lawyer Vamli Van Arslan told on Monday, March 14.

    Arslan believed that Muslim women in the Netherlands take the brunt of religious discrimination and racial profiling in the labor market because of their attire and names.

    'The government remains largely inactive towards such incidents,' she said.

    Arslan, herself a Muslim, said that women should have the right to put on whatever ear suits them, a principle she said is enshrined by the secular laws.

    Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands's 16 million population. Turks represent 80 percent of the Muslim minority.

    There are some 450 mosques in the Netherlands, 1,000 Islamic cultural centers, two Islamic universities and 42 preparatory schools, according to recent estimates.

    Press reports have underlined that Dutch Muslims were subjected to religious discrimination and racist attacks on their places of worship in 2004.


    Arslan said Dutch media and authorities suffer from 'political schizophrenia' as they do not practice what they preach.

    'Day in and day out, they Parrott about the alleged oppression of women under Islam, and in the same breath they oppress Muslim women in the labor market, universities and public life,' Arslan said.

    'The world oppression has no room in the Muslim faith,' she said. 'But it is practiced by individuals and very much related to the psychological mood and social life.'

    The Dutch Muslim rights activist said that many hijab-clad are leading successful careers.

    'So, Does Islam oppress them as claimed?' She wondered.


    Sadya Al-Arkat, a social activist, agreed that racism constituted a major obstacle to non-native women, particularly Muslims.

    'They are discriminated against for no reason other than being veiled, or because of their names, complexion and dark hair,' she told IOL.

    But she said that the blame finger should be also pointed at poor education, shortage complex and dreams of returning to their native countries.

    She said that the September 11 attacks and the killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by a Moroccan has further worsened the already parlous situation.

    'Now, non-native women don't find a foothold in the labor market though they fared well in universities.'

    A government commission said in a report released earlier in the month that some 240,000 non-native women did not master the Dutch language and needed to have integration courses.

    It said that less than one-fourth of the non-native Dutch women are having jobs.

    It recommended allowing the non-native women to have the so-called 'citizenship' exam by 2010 at the very latest to see whether they will adapt to the Dutch culture and values.

    The committee further struck deals with 16 municipalities nationwide to employ a number of non-native women.

    Dutch Crown Princess Maxima, who is born to immigrant parents, called last week on business owners and municipal leaders to provide job opportunities to foreign women.

    She toured a number of banks and municipalities, throwing her weight behind solving the problems facing the immigrant population in the country.   - .


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