Why are there still all those questions?

Ayter Köse is a 2nd generation Dutch Turk. She was born in the Netherlands and grew up there. Marrying a Turk, she came back to live in the Netherlands, though her husband would have preferred staying in Turkey. Now, they are going back.

She feels Dutch and see the Netherlands as her home. It is the only place she really knows. But she doesn't feel the Netherlands accepts her.

“I’m not truly discriminated against. Naturally I’ve been cursed at, but I’m accustomed to that. It’s more the feeling that I’m not accepted as a full Dutch citizen.”

“Why should I still have to explain after 31 years what’s involved with the Ramadan? Why do people react with surprise when they hear me speaking Dutch or when they see me driving a car? Why was I denied an internship because I wear a veil?”

“I live here for 31 years, I’m Dutch. Why are there still all those questions, and why still that lack of comprehension? That feels strange. I see myself as Dutch, this is my land. A Pole that barely speaks Dutch is considered more Dutch than I.”

Ayter is in a very difficult situation. She was born in the Netherlands, but her entire existence is that of an immigrant. Europe, whether she would like to admit it or not, is Christian and the Ramadan is not part of the normal European experience. Jews have been living in Europe for hundreds of years, and yet do not expect that the general population will understand their customs and traditions.

She is studying for a teacher's license, and that's where she realized she is not at home. Her first meeting with the principal of the school where she was asking to intern went extremely well. The following day, though, she got a call.

“If I don’t take off my veil, I can’t come to intern. I was shocked and did not know what to say. I looked for another school, since I’m not a little kid anymore. I wear a veil consciously, as I’ve chosen when I was 15."

Another incident completely broke her:
“I was biking with my son through a street where a couple of teenagers were playing soccer. They shouted the usual things, such as “Holland – volland” (Holland is full). I would normally react… I didn’t want that my son would feel anything like discrimination. By not saying anything, I had come up short again.”

That same evenings Ayter announced that she wants to go to Turkey.

“I fully realize it’s not going to be easy there. It’s hard for me to leave, and I’d rather stay here. This is my land, but if in 31 years I can’t reach the stage where I’m considered fullly Dutch, then my kids will also not succeed in it.”

“I’m not demanding. I have just one goal, that my kids would be accepted as full citizens. I don’t want them to get the same feeling here that I did. That they don’t count. If it doesn’t succeed, we’ll come back. We all have Dutch passports.”

Ayter says she's not demanding, but she wants the impossible - she wants the Dutch to accept her as a Muslim, but as a full Dutch citizen as well. She wants to flaunt her religion (putting on a veil) and yet be accepted as any Christian (ie, a Pole). However, she is not willing to put the effort into it.

"I think that Dutch is my mother tongue. I catch myself, that I often think in Dutch."

She grew up in a Turkish speaking home, and yet feels annoyed when people are surprised she speaks Dutch.

Ayter stresses the language - she speaks Dutch - and her feeling of home - she knows no other country - but her family has come to live in a country with a different culture and different religious norms. As long as she insists on being different, as long as she insists on being a minority, which is her right, she can not insist on being "accepted" as part of the majority. Being 'accepted' as Dutch would not happen tomorrow, if ever.

She can just ask the Jews, who have much experience with being the outsiders. Or the French Algerians who were chased out of their homes after 3 and 4 generations of being born on Algerian soil. It simply takes more than 31 years to turn an immigrant from another culture into a native. The more that immigrant wants to uphold his own culture and identity, the longer it's going to take.


José said...

Holland is a christian society?
As a joke can pass;-)

You know that Europe has lost its faith and maybe that is related to its decline and eventual destruction.

In Spain, supposedly catholic, the churches are empty, only are full in weddings, baptisms and funerals.

Religion in Europe is only a social ritual. I am surprised you believe another thing.

Esther said...

Hi jmaria,

Europe may be secular, religiously, but on a social/cultural level Europe is decidedly Christian. A the joke goes - a European may not go into a church, but if he did go into a house of worship, it would be a church.

Just to take a couple of examples from recent events... the coming of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands was headline news in every Dutch media. This wasn't brought just as an item of curiousity, but as part of the local culture.

The new Dutch princess was just recently baptized. Religious convictions don't really matter.. everybody expected that such should be the case.

An immigrant who does not take part in the local culture, cannot expect to "be counted", no matter how well they speak Dutch. Even if an immigrant *would* do everything the Dutch do socially and culturally, it might take a couple of generations till the family is "considered" Dutch.

That is what Ayter refuses to accept. She not only wants to be different, she not only wants to ignore the messsage her actions convey, she not only wants to ignore reality (and regardless of what she wants, there is a good reason why the Dutch feel Islam and terrorism are linked) - she also wants the Dutch to accept her as "fully Dutch" and to do so immediately. But what does fully Dutch mean if not to socially and culturally conform to the Dutch norms?

Anonymous said...

I think we're missing some key points here.

Unlike skin color, the choice of clothes that person wears is something that person can control. If you dress like a gangmember, people are going to view and treat you one way; if you dress more conservatively, people are going to view and treat you another way. This is addressed in the post: She wants to flaunt her religion (putting on a veil)....

The first key point that we're missing is the message that is being sent. What this woman is "flaunting" is affiliation with a religious movement that has been trying to forcefully seize political power ever since its inception.

Islamic law and Islamic teachings have never backed off from the Koran's injunction and the Prophet's example of offering the non-Muslim world three options: 1) conversion to Islam; 2) surrender, submission and dhimmitude; or 3) war and death.

I'm sure this woman is very nice and peaceful; she sounds like a model citizen. But her clothes are telling a story about her that maybe she needs to consider.

The way she has been treated is certainly of concern. Other minorities have been treated badly in Europe; discrimination is still a problem throughout the world. And this brings me to another point that hasn't been addressed:

Her treatment in "Christian" Holland is very nice compared to the treatment of non-Muslims throughout much of the Islamic world. And, unlike Holland, where the laws and public opinion are in favor of decent treatment for everyone, and so are on her side, in the Islamic world, the legal code of Sharia institutionalizes mistreatment not just of non-Muslims, but of anyone who runs afoul of the ruling Muslim authorities.

There's another meaning of that veil that she needs to consider.