Netherlands: Muslim soldiers valuable resource

While Defense has no idea how many Dutch soldiers are Muslim, these soldiers are of enormous importance for missions in Muslim countries like Afghanistan. Through their religion and knowledge of the culture, they enable good contacts with the local population, says Dr. Femke Bosman, a researcher of policy and organization.

She got her PhD yesterday at the University of Tilbug on diversity within the Dutch military force. In her study Bosman interviewed Muslim Dutch soldiers - most of which are of Morrocan origin - and asked them about their experiences. They were overwhelmingly positive. Soldier Saïd: "Sometimes I cited the prophet Mohammed. That was recognizable for them. If you know this sort of things, communication is a bit easier. People wanted to listen to what I had to say."

His colleague Rachid said it was a bridge between the local population and his colleagues. On the other hand, in some meetings with the Afghani population, the Islamic soldiers had the feeling that their should keep their background hidden, because they would be seen as traitors by their "Muslim brothers".

Defense recognizes that Muslim are a valuable addition within the army. "We try to consciously recruit immigrants," according to a spokesperson. But Defense doesn't know what percentage of its personnel are Muslims. Soldiers can state their religion, but its registration is not obligatory.

Bosman, who now works as a teacher in the Dutch Defense Academy, had also looked at the relations between ethnic Dutch soldiers and their Muslim colleagues. The mutual relations were mostly good, while the attitude towards Muslims was often negative.

Muslim soldiers often heard from their colleagues that they didn't like Muslims, but that they were 'ok'. Some Muslim soldiers shrugged, other reacted fanatically. Muslims who couldn't deal with the insults had left the army.

Source: BN/De Stem (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Muslims in the armed forces

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess it like having fascist in the army during WWII and somebody says: "well, we need them, they can understand the enemy". True, but ...