Why a Moroccan problem? “The media still has a lot to learn about our society”

Media and politics have occupied for years: the image of the Dutch Moroccans as a problem in society. Mocro-Mafia, robbery of Moroccans on scooters, youth riots – these are negative associations. But how true is this picture?

Lazy joke or racist? the VolkskrantA cartoon by Gus Collignon, in which two Moroccan thieves on a motorcycle steal the World Cup, aroused a lot of emotions in the audience. Ultimately, that newspaper decided to remove the cartoon, because it would contribute to the stigmatization of Moroccans in the diaspora. However, many readers saw the image of criminals on a motorbike fitting the contemporary image of the Dutch Moors.

The image of the Moroccan youth as a criminal. as a problem in society. Negative qualifications prevailed for years. Once upon a time, that was different. In 2004, the Dutch sang cheerfully with Ali B.’s “Leipe Mocro Flavor”. At the time, people were still associating the term mocro with youth and hip-hop culture. But today, this word tends to refer to liquidations and criminals. This was even more important when the term “mocro-mafia” came into use. Paul Romer of Talpa said in 2019 that the term is stigmatizing.

“The beast calls his name”

Politicians are also guilty of stigmatizing the Moroccan community. Wilders’s “fewer Moroccans” statement is an infamous example of this. But the problem of stigmatization is not limited to far-right politicians. Football pundit Johan Dirksen claimed in 2016 on the TV show “Voetbal Inside” that “a lot of clubs have gone to hell because they are located in a neighborhood with many Moroccan families”. He had the support of the then Minister for Health, Welfare and Sport Edith Schippers (VVD). She believed Dirksen was creating “a real problem”.

“Dirksen’s statement is an example of the stigmatization of Dutch-Moroccans,” says Abdel Samad Bouabid. He specializes in criminology and works at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Dirksen’s search for cause and solution in Moroccan society. But if there are, for example, Feyenoord supporters who cause an inconvenience, we suddenly understand that it makes no sense to accuse an entire group. Then we realize that it is about individuals.

Politicians noted that Fortuyn owed his popularity to relating problems to people’s cultural background.

Bouabid wrote a dissertation on the negative portrayal of Moroccans in the media. Research how Moroccan immigrants have lived since the 1990s in the picture He stated: “The majority of people in our country feel that their values ​​and standards have been lost due to immigration. They express their concerns and fears by referring to immigrants as a problem in society.

Bouabid calls this phenomenon “Moroccan panic”: “It manifests itself by associating problems such as inconvenience and crime with Moroccan culture. Added to this is a moral panic towards Muslims, because Moroccans are also perceived as Muslims since the 2001 attacks.”

According to Buabid, there were taboos on discrimination and stigmatization. “In the Netherlands, we got rid of the race theory, because we realized that people are too unique to classify them in this way. And so linking social problems to someone’s ancestry was also taboo. But since the rise of right-wing populists like Pim Fortuyn, the popularity of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the killing of Theo van Gogh, political correctness disappeared. Since then, it has become a norm in politics and the media to “call the animal by its name”, letting it say anything. Politicians note that Fortuyn owes his popularity to linking problems to people’s cultural background. They have adopted this framework. In science The meeting they call this phenomenon “culture”: the problem is no longer linked to origin, as is the case with racism, but to culture. For example, blaming Moroccan upbringing. So this is in fact also racism, but disguised in a new guise.

More contact with Morocco

According to Hanan Betish, the fact that the image of the Dutch-Moroccan community is one-sided is mainly shown through media coverage. She is a former leader of the Dink Party in the Utrecht County Council. “The news about that large, narrow Moroccan community is news only if it can highlight an ‘alleged’ problem. Usually that problem is either about poor integration, a ‘youth problem’, a terrible term, or about a disenfranchised culture that oppresses women. You see it all the time in newspaper articles, for example, about Muhammad finding a sum of money and giving it back to its owner. The majority of the reactions (to such an article, ed.) consist of white Dutch people saying, ‘Oh my God, this is the way it can be done’. by it” or “What an example to society.” This indicates that they are seen as an exception, and that they find it refreshing to read something different.

“Additionally, continuous negative group exposure is problematic for all kinds of reasons,” Petisch continues. This can negatively affect group identity, lead to low self-esteem and damage the connection you feel with the Netherlands. When it appeared before the World Cup that a number of Moroccan-Dutch footballers would play for the Moroccan national team, people thought they had “adapted poorly”. Petisch believes that the selection of footballers for Morocco is linked to the negative tone of the controversy in the Netherlands. My first reaction when I saw the Dutch reactions was: ‘Yes, my God. good cry. Whoever is burned must sit on the blisters.”

When it became clear that a number of Moroccan-Dutch footballers were going to play for Morocco, people thought they had ‘adapted poorly’.

According to her, the problem of the Dutch-Moroccan year after year leads people to move away from the Netherlands. “There is absolutely no motivation to feel connected to the person who is constantly pushing you away and saying, ‘You’re a problem.’ Everyone is looking for a place where you can be accepted.

Personal criticism

According to Zuhair Al-Siddiqi, a lecturer at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, it is important to realize that the media is not a single entity. I think that journalists generally make a good decision about what they do and don’t want to report. We learn from the media and you learn from us.

For Siddiqui, it is important to have variety. This means that the subject is not illuminated from one angle. So we also need critical reports to identify problematic issues. And criticism doesn’t necessarily mean it’s negative, because it can actually lead to an important discussion.

“People reacted emotionally to Rosanne Hertzberger’s column on the glorification of Moroccan motherhood.”

Al-Siddiqi says that some Dutch Moroccans respond to criticism as if they were stung by a wasp. Then Roseanne Hertzberger is in it Norwegian Refugee Council– The column cracked critical remarks about the glorification of Moroccan motherhood, and people reacted very emotionally and instinctively, while I think she has good intentions with her article. He thought it unfortunate that so little attention was subsequently paid to women’s emancipation. I found the column accurate. I think she wanted to question patriarchal structures and machismo. These are matters already on the agenda of the Moroccan community. I have seen in my own environment that mothers and women are in a position to not make the obvious choices, or think about school or career. The fuss was a missed opportunity to think critically about what was happening in society.


Research conducted by the Central Office for Cultural Planning shows that Dutch Moroccans and Turks experience the greatest discrimination and stigmatization. According to political scientist Awad Pater, research shows that the media plays an important role as a catalyst for discrimination. They often reproduce certain stereotypes.

“It’s a well-known phenomenon that the media, in their search for the unusual, often report negative things and look for and exaggerate inconsistencies,” Pater explains. “Minorities, especially the Dutch Moors, are seen as ‘the other’ and pose an implicit or explicit threat.” According to him, this quickly leads to the stereotyping of the entire group, without regard to the individual and diversity.

He also says that the Netherlands also suffers from a “racial obsession”. We often mistakenly name people’s ethnic or religious background. But the fact that a troublemaker or criminal has a grandfather or grandmother born in Morocco is rarely important. This also has nothing to do with criminals or hooligans with only Dutch grandparents. It contributes nothing to the analysis and solution of problems and only reinforces prejudice and discrimination.

If it were up to the Rotterdam scholar Bouabid, more still needed to be done to achieve a more equal situation: “I still often see that people, including prominent Dutch-Moors, move along with the negative discourse and begin to generalize. Even when former soccer player Ibrahim Afellay suddenly had to respond to hooligans (ed.) Because what does it have to do with Moroccans throwing fireworks? I used to feel the same way in high school, when I had to explain why there were attacks in Paris.

We need people who dare to say it’s not our fault. Whoever says, like Afellay, that they find an event shocking, then makes a statement by saying that this has nothing to do with Moroccan culture, but that this inconvenience is a global problem. I see growing opposition on social media when it comes to racism. However, I miss a large movement, comparable to Black Lives Matter, of people who oppose the stigmatization of large numbers of Dutch Moors and Muslims.

Good journalism costs money. Members and donations enable our balanced coverage of biculturalism, meaning, and freedom. So support us if you think our work is important.

Tell me more!

Leave a Comment