Netherlands: Ramadan celebrations changing

Netherlands: Ramadan celebrations changing

The way Muslims celebrate Ramadan in the Netherlands has been changing in recent years. In the past they celebrated mostly with each other. Today they use the fasting month to also try to approach non-Muslims. They do it, for example, by organizing iftars, the meal immediately after sunset, for various groups.

This according to Gerard Wiegers, professor of religion studies at the University of Amsterdam, and Edien Bartels, anthropologist at VU University in Amsterdam.

"The rituals adapt to the environment here, they conform to the Dutch circumstances," says Wiegers. He sees this as part of a 'process of institutionalizing Islam in a Dutch, secular environment'.

Ramdan begins Wednesday. In the upcoming week, Muslims are organizing a number of events where non-Muslims are also welcome. The Islam and Dialog foundation is organizing a Ramadan tent at the Schouwburgplein square in Rotterdam. In the Hague, the Iedul-Fitr foundation is organizing a city iftar. The biggest event is probably the Ramadan Festival, which will be going around the country by bus to organize holiday activities. In additional there are various other events, such as an iftar at the Dam in Amsterdam.

Wiegers says that Muslim student organizations were the first to organize joint iftars. Later Islam en Burgerschap (Islam and Citizenship), an organization which had meanwhile closed down, organized such iftars on a national level. 20-30 years ago there were no such events. Wiegers says that then the rituals were aimed more inwards.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)