In the Netherlands, they have had the hand of discrimination and deprivation for a long time – Joop


Reading time 5 minutes

2982 opinions


Refugee Church in Amsterdam

© cc photo: Tyne Van Forest

About half of Dutch people with immigrant backgrounds do not feel at home here, according to a preliminary report from the Office for Social and Cultural Planning (SCP). It was not fully accepted by the indigenous population. They suffer discrimination.

This is actually no surprise. The Dutch have a strong tradition of discrimination against minorities. The contemporary complaints contained in the report of the Supreme Council for Planning resemble those of nineteenth-century Catholics like two drops of water. Joss Palm of the VPRO history program OVT usually says: The Catholics were the Moroccans of the nineteenth century. You can now extend this to all Dutch people with immigrant backgrounds

Traditionally, Catholics in the Netherlands made up a large minority, just over thirty percent. In the illustrious days of the Republic they were officially disenfranchised. They were not qualified to hold public office. Their churches were not allowed to be recognized as formwork houses from the outside. Often they had to pay some kind of protection money to the guardians of public order. Formal equality of all citizens, despite their philosophy of life, was achieved only in 1796. They thought carefully about the Jews, but they also fell under the new order.

This was not the end of the excommunication of Catholics. They experienced significant discrimination in the labor market, ranging from high to low. Many employers did not want roommates in their company. The Catholic daily newspaper De Tijd regularly published lists showing that the number of Catholic civil servants is very small compared to their share of the population.

Protestants wondered if Catholics were loyal to their country and to their royal families. What is their priority, Dutch law or the orders of the Pope in Rome? In fact, they were completely unreliable people. For example, if they deceive you, they can get rid of this guilt in confession. You didn’t have to try to go home with a Romanian boy as a girl in love.

Since equality before the law, Catholics have been allowed to build visible churches again. It took about thirty years before they really started doing that. Initially, the Ministry of Waterways had a strong grip on the designs, but this was abandoned as a result of Thorbeck’s constitution. Now the Catholics are more visible: using the latest technology, their contractors built neo-Gothic churches with tall spiers that can be seen far into the area. This spreads a lot of fear and terror. You can see from those huge buildings that there was a reconciliation going on. By the way, Catholics were raised like crazy.

As a result of official discrimination during the Republic, the Netherlands no longer had any dioceses. In 1853, Pope Pius IX decided to bring them back. Liberal Minister Rudolf Thorbeck thought it was their right, but an entire popular movement began by petitioning the king and everyone else to prevent it. Thorbeek commissioned the political summit. His successor, the opportunistic deal-maker Floris Adrian van Hol – a figure resembling Rutte – pacified the people with a meaningless law and allowed the parishes to survive. Nevertheless, social deprivation persisted in all its glory. As early as the 1960s, I was taught at St. Franciscus College in Rotterdam that Catholic boys—the girls were located in Maria Virgo Street, the Neelek Norderfleet School—had to do their best to get a decent position.

Catholics who felt discriminated against could of course pursue a career with fellow believers or start their own businesses. The department store C&A, Peek & Cloppenburg, and Vroom & Dreesmann had an emphatic Catholic character. Many Catholics have been able to express their ambition as an SME.

They established their own schools and interest groups. They have created powerful media. Eventually they formed the most fragmented population group. And so the Catholics locked themselves in their group, buoyed by a powerful media bubble. Catholic girls didn’t have to go home with a dissenting boy.

I gave faith. Around 1900, reactionary fundamentalism took control of an important part of Dutch Catholics. Most bishops wholeheartedly supported this. Pope Pius X, an intolerant black person who supported purges in the church, was very popular in the Netherlands. As a boy, I learned to adore him in the 1950s: He was the Holy Pope of Children’s Communion and a huge mural was painted in the Singelkerk to depict this.

Accused of disloyalty and placing the Pope above the Queen, Catholics learned to respond forcefully. Sometimes literally. When the speaker said that, they attacked. However, the cannibals continued to attract votes with their anti-Catholic propaganda. The SGP was the last party still actively doing this.

Another phenomenon reminiscent of Catholics in the past: the shopping center in my neighborhood was built long ago without entrepreneurship by Turks and Kurds. We Catholics had our own seats, damn it. Learn from it.

It all sounds like two drops of water about what happens to Dutch people with immigrant backgrounds. They can also draw a lesson from the fate of Catholics: be organised. Don’t take it. take action. Decide where it should be. The answer to deprivation and the formation of power is the formation and organization of power. The Catholic example makes it clear that they will not go away. Not automatically.

In this regard, there is another remarkable fact: we are now acquainted with the Russian general Sergei Surovkin. He was portrayed in the media as a war criminal responsible for the new bombing of Ukraine. When he reduced the world heritage city of Aleppo to ashes, no rooster crowed in our country. It was only in Syria. Only now we learn the name of this war criminal. This testifies to the mentality that ensures that many Dutch people do not feel at home here.

For the rest, I think that the subsidy scandal should not disappear from the public’s attention, nor should the issue of natural gas in Groningen disappear.

Listen to The Memory Palace, a podcast by Han van der Horst and John Knirim on politics and history.

Leave a Comment