The Netherlands

Fecha de publicación:
Marcel Maussen and Thijs Bogers

Whereas the Netherlands used to have a reputation as a country welcoming other cultures and respecting the rights of immigrants, it is now often mentioned as an example of the ways the critique of Islam and multiculturalism dominate public debates on immigration and integration issues in Europe. In the course of this chapter we will argue that in the past 20 years or so, there are two categories of communities which are most outspokenly challenged in debates on cultural pluralism. These are religious groups and immigrants. We analyse public debates on Orthodox Calvinist groups, which often concern principles such as gender equality, religious freedom and associational autonomy, especially in the domains of education and politics. We also include analysis of the main immigrant groups and how their cultural and religious differences have given rise to public contestation. In debates on migrant groups the focus is usually on specific ethno-religious practices, on the need for ‘integration’ and on a wide range of societal problems that are associated with cultural difference and socio-economic disadvantages, such as unemployment, social isolation and crime. The group that is most outspokenly seen as both ethnically and religiously ‘different’ are Muslims and we will discuss issues and events in which Islam dominates the public discourse concerning toleration and diversity challenges.