Fleur Jurgens, a Dutch journalist, is now coming out with a new book: "The Moroccan Drama" (Het Marokkanendrama). In this book she examines the Moroccan youth in Amsterdam. She claims that the fault of their lack of integration and their criminality is with their families. She interviewed about seventy people about the situation of the Moroccans.
In the the Volkskrant, Jurgens brings four myths that hinder the debate on Moroccan criminal youth.
There isn't an issue of a Moroccan problem. Everything that Moroccan do wrong is enlarged by the media. In reality it's just a small group.
Making the messenger into the culprit is a well tried method when it comes to Moroccans: they are "stigmatized". But that is turning around cause and effect. In Amsterdam there is indeed a dubious Moroccan underclass being created of aggrieved youth that scarcely have a message to Dutch society.
A few facts (from among other things the report "Moroccan in Amsterdam", of the Amsterdam municipal service, 2006): Almost seven out of ten Moroccan youth leave the education system without a useful diploma; 40% of the Moroccan youth are unemployed, one in ten is registered by police as suspect of at least one punishable crime. Almost one in three youth in the judicial youth institutions is of Moroccan origin. The percentage of suspects from the second generation Moroccans is even highest of all ethnic minorities and more than twice as high as by the first generation Moroccans. Moroccan youth are also overrepresented in the hard core of youth revolving door criminals.
These youth grow up in questionable environments, in which having benefits is quite usual and having work quite unusual. 60% of Moroccan men get benefits, half for disability. In Amsterdam one in four Moroccan families gets social security benefits. Half of Moroccan kids in Amsterdam grow up in poverty. Moroccan kids live too crammed, grow up in Moroccan neighborhoods, are relatively unhealthy and go most often to special education, due to physical or mental limitations.
In the Westelijke Tuinsteden, meanwhile, several hundred Moroccan "problem families" already live: big families in which the kids and parents sometimes go together on raids, where there's addiction, debts, mental disabilities, domestic and sexual violence, extreme poverty, pollution, psychiatric or education problems. Policy makers already speak of the "Moroccan Tokkies".
Their own part in the problems is among these underclass of Berber machos a tremendous taboo subject. And hurriedly everybody - police, teachers and social workers - agrees with it. But precisely this lack of responsibility is what makes these Moroccan boys powerless to do something for their situation. A powerless growing aggression.
Pointing to Dutch society - with the press as representative - breeds an anti-Dutch sentiment. Almost all social workers, teacher, psychiatrists, police agents, employers and pedagogues that I interviewed for my research found the anti-Dutch sentiment specific for the new Moroccan underclass (in contrast to the Antillean or the Surinamese underclass. The Moroccan underclass is not only deprived, it also has an "offended face". That makes them easily inflammable and mobilizable.
Moroccan criminal youth are driven into the arms of crime because they are discriminated in the Dutch labor market.
'They get no internship place', 'they are discriminated by Dutch employers based on their last names'. Logically they will misbehave. This reasoning comes up every now and then when talking about the Moroccan problem youth.
It rests on criminological misunderstanding that there is a casual connection between 'being discriminated' and 'committing crimes'. A bank robbery must according to this reasoning be seen as an unconscious expression of a deeper 'unease in society'.
First, I dare to claim that this motive is pretty much absent in the mind of a criminal at the time of the crime. Yes, naturally, afterwards (by the police, before the judge) he liked to being it forth as mitigating circumstances of his 'derailment': 'The police arrested me because I'm Moroccan".
But why can't a criminal simply be greedy? I am surprised at this blind spot. Is it not more reasonable that a bag snatcher, a petty thief or a drug trader are led primarily by the fruits of their crime: the Pradas (ie, clothes), BMWs, scooters or laptops? The criminal profession is in some neighborhoods of Amsterdam already a serious perspective. So are Moroccan drop outs directly employable in the drug trade, youth gangs or petty criminality. In practice it revolves - according to my study - around youth who take into account the risks of their 'profession'. The chance that a car thief would be caught is about 1 in 15. And if he has to appear before the judge, it is still not a disaster: In most cases he gets community service or a fine. Not reacting can lead to years of delay and in some cases even to postponement (if he gets to 18 in the meantime). After more sentences he must maybe 'sit' for a while in an institute that is especially aimed at "re-education", because that's how the youth criminal law goes: not to punish but to re-socialize as the main goal. A bag thief in that time gets very rich.
Secondly, there's the criminological misunderstanding - the criminal as a victim of an unfair society - an outdated form of determinism. A bad social-economic situation or culture origin, or bad youth definitely leads to crimes. But the fact that meanwhile almost a quarter of the Moroccans (from similar environments) studies in higher education, shows the opposite. The Moroccan comedians, authors, actors and politicians also have clearly applied their "cultural baggage" in a favorable way.
Thirdly it is said that Moroccan youth don't 'get' jobs or internship from discriminating employers. But isn't it more logical that this effect is caused by the fact that most of them don't have a useful diploma? They also take themselves out of the market by lacking basis employment proficiencies, such as coming on time, speaking Dutch, keeping their hands off other people's stuff, accepting authority, finishing something with discipline and working together. These kids are often educated on the street, without parental support. That doesn't prepare them for the job market, no matter how sympathetic Dutch employers are towards them.
Moroccan parents can't supervise their sons in the street. Indeed, they are not used to it in their culture. Everybody repeats it: In Morocco the 'entire neighborhood' watches over their children, but in the Netherlands the 'Moroccan Community' is absent, and the parental authority of Moroccan parents doesn't get past the front door.
But how can you explain then that Moroccan girls time after time say that they find the social pressure of the community in the "Moroccan neighborhoods" almost unbearable? If they light up a cigarette or talk to a boy - loaded crimes for the family honor - their parents know it within a few hours. Apparently social control works excellently in the Amsterdam-Moroccan community, but selectively.
Moroccan parents don't know what's happening only when it relates to the bad behavior of their sons. In some cases it's because they don't entirely reject that behavior. These parents are indifferent to Dutch society. But in most cases it's because the balance of power in their family is disturbed. Many Moroccan sons control what's happening at home. From childhood they get what they want, because they are boys. Their mothers can barely restrict them a little. Through that develop big egos with short fuses. Researchers in the field speak of "Moroccan princes".
What is new in the Netherlands is that Moroccan mothers are often 'information dependent' on their sons. These Moroccan mothers still lead an isolated existence and speak bad Dutch. Many mothers came to the Netherlands as import-brides. Also they are not expected to enter the 'male domain'. That makes it difficult to call their sons to order in the street. More than that, these mothers often marry out of "community interests" and not out of love. There is little communication possible about the raising of children in their 'dull' marriage. Mothers want more control over their sons, but they are expected to be loyal to their spouse. That brings them into a "difficult straddle" between their kids and their spouse. Sometimes fathers care for their sons, but they do it in an authoritative manner. They give orders, or say what their can't do, but they don't explain what it's not allowed. That doesn't work by their Dutch-ized sons, who withdraw more from parental authority.
The Dutch government owes the Moroccan community. Moroccan guest worker sit now "with a broken back" on the couch. Their children are derailed.
I call this slavery argument.
The official recruiting of Moroccan guest workers ended in 1973. At that time there were about 22,000 Moroccans in The Netherlands. Most (between 50%-70%) of this first group of guest workers by that time had already gone back or still wanted to do it, according to statistics of the CBS.
The biggest group of Moroccan immigrants who now live in the Netherlands, is from after the official recruiting of guest workers. First came the family reunificationists then the adventurers and the marriage-migrants. Meanwhile, 315,000 Moroccans live in the Netherlands, of which half are kids who were born in the Netherlands. The total number of import-partners is between 3 to 5 times as big as the total number of guest workers who were ever in the Netherlands.
I will just say: Most Moroccan parents are now certainly not former guest workers. They had for the most part come to the Netherlands of their own free will to build up a better and more prosperous existence for themselves and their children then was possible in Morocco. A pity that nobody reminds them of this original reason for moving.
Sources: Volkskrant (Dutch), Meulenhoff Publishing (Dutch)
See also: Amsterdam: dualism in Moroccan community, Belgian marriage-immigration