Amsterdam: A story of a Moroccan family

Trouw newspaper brings the story of one Moroccan family in Slotervaart.


Khalid Hashmi (44) has no idea where his 18-year old son Hicham hung out Monday evening. The boy left home after 10pm and came home just after midnight. "My son was sitting calmly watching television when he suddenly got an SMS. He took his jacket and left without saying anything. We called after him, but heard the door slam shut. No answer. Later we heard the police in the neighborhood by the August Allebe square, a few minutes form us. We were afraid because our son was outside, but he came back a few hours later with Allah's blessing unhurt. He went immediately to his room, again without saying anything. We know our son, he looked tense. We knew immediately that there was something wrong."

The Moroccan family Hashmi lives in the Amsterdam neighborhood of Slotervaart for quite a few years. Grandfather Habib (69) came with his wife and older son in the 60s to the capital as a guest worker. "You are a structural engineer? Then you have a solid understanding of bricks. Here you have pallets full, carry them to the truck," the orders from the foreman in the brick factory that Habib can still remember well. Ten years he had carried bricks till his back gave out and was dismissed. Years later his wife died and he moved to his son Khalid and his family with three children.

Khalid is a mechanic and earns enough to rent a house in Slotervaart. His wife is a housewife and every once in a while works on the side. Their oldest son of 22 works in security and will soon get married. Their 17-year old daughter, the youngest of the three, studies in the Hogeschool Van Amsterdam (college). The family has it good, except for the middle child, 18-year old Hicham.

"The boy has embarrased us often in recent years," says father Khalid. "He's caused problem since he was 15. How it comes about, we don't know exactly. Sometimes we think that he simply isn't well in his head. But than we remember again that Hicham was in HAVO (a higher-level high school degree) and had good scores. It didn't seem like there was anything wrong with him. Till he got into a fight and was kicked out of school because of his aggression."

Hicham had hit other boys at school He was according to his father "completely crazy". From there it went downhill. "After the fight the boy got into trouble with the police and got community service. But that wasn't enough to make him realize that he must suppress his dark side. The authorities couldn't do much with him. But we also didn't know what we must do with him.

We still don't don't yet, because since then the boy isolates himself. He lives by us at home, but seems like a foreigner. He talks with nobody, lives in his own world outside the walls of our house and outside the members of our family. He seldom eats at home. Where he gets money to eat outside, I really don't want to know, because he doesn't work. And if he reacts, he is often sulky, angry and sometimes even aggressive. To keep the peace, we leave him along. My daughter must namely be able to study at home calmly. Because we don't want that by it she'll also come to nothing."

The Hasmi's family's rented house is spacious for Slotervaart. The grandfather and children each have their own room and the parents have a smaller bedroom. They think it's important that the children get the space they need. The furnishing are eastern, white-leather couches, marble pattern on the floor and a glass coffee table with golden tables.

Many pictures of the family hang on the wall. A photo of grandfather and grandmother Hasmi "in better times in Morocco" hangs at a central place in the living room. Further on the wall hangs the Muslim confirmation of belief in Arabic: "Allah is the only God and Mohammad is his prophet". On the eastern side of the house there's a photo of Mecca. Hicham's bedroom is "forbidden terrain", as it says on a small sign "for the unauthorized". But the father can tell that his dear son has thrown and broken things many times on the other side of these closed doors.

According to his father Hicham is a "problem boy" that acts similarly to Bilal B, the 22-year old supposedly mentally ill Moroccan who was shot dead Sunday after he attacked with a knife two policemen in the Slotervaart police station. "Sometimes when he comes home, we smell the smell of marijuana."

"Sometimes I say something of it, but then he acts as if he's the boss and swears at the whole house. More often I don't say anything, because then I see on his red eyes how late it is. Sometimes Hicham also drinks alchohol."

The psychiatrist to whom he had gone had the impression that there was nothing wrong with his mental health. The doctor worked out a route of social workers, but Hicham refused. He simply didn't go. And so long as there's no court order. It ends. Clearly they don't think he's bad enough. Ok, maybe it's not yet Bilal B., but he could well become one."

The boy doesn't go to the mosque either. "Bilal B.'s body was brought to mosque El Ouma for a memorial, but why? As if these boys go to the mosque. My son certainly doesn't. And all his friends who show the same behavior, also don't. It's not about Islam or faith in general. People think immediately that it's again about the Muslims, but that isn't so. If these boys would just go to the mosque, then there would at least be some supervision."

Many parents don't want to believe it, but these youth are completely out of their mind. They act like the boss, make everybody afraid, as if Slotervaart is theirs. In the beginning I also though, just like many other parents, ach.. puberty .. but it's been going on already for years and their behavior doesn't change. Worse yet, it becomes only worse."

Hicham's parents are powerless. They try to think how the boy could be brought back to the right path. "He had mistreated, threatened, stolen, I don't know everything. He has by the psychiatrist, but it doesn't do any good. We are seriously thinking of reporting him to the police.

Maybe a course can be started in which he end up by the right authority that can leader him further. And if that's not possible, then maybe he must be simply locked up. We must think of the others in our family. Everybody is crazy from him. We don't want to chase him away from home, because we know what he'll do then. Detaining at home has no meaning either. The boy has a problem and we must do something about it.

The door opens. Everybody immediately falls silent. Hicham comes insides, doesn't greet anybody, takes something from his room and leaves again. "Like always".

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

See also: Amsterdam: Low intensity riots


Ferdy said...

Trouw totally misses the point, the parents are not victims they are the cause of it. They might not all like the result but that does not mean it's not causes by their own values.

Values based on the totalitarian tribal laws of submission that has no respect for the Western way of life. Just shows in they young boys. How else to explain the aggression of the 10 year olds in the streets of Amsterdam?

Kind of the same mechanism you see in Dutch children. Many Dutch have no value system and their children don't behave and show no respect for anybody (including their parents).

Esther said...

Hi Ferdy,

I think that Trouw is giving the family the stage in this article, letting others analyze why things have gotten to this stage. If you got the idea that the family are victims, that's how they themselves see it, which is also important in understanding what's going on.

And I do agree with you - lack of values is having very bad results.