Amsterdam: Muslim youth go out for 'laugh-fight'

Amsterdam: Muslim youth go out for 'laugh-fight'

Eye to eye with a Muslim youth and then we're the first to burst out laughing.  With this variant on an old game, Kijkstrijd (staring contest) hopes to bring back the laughter to neighborhoods known for their grimness.

"Muslim youth and non-Muslims do look at each other.  But there's no talk of contact," says project leader of Kijkstrijd Annemiek Spronk.  "This is due to the negative media attention.  In order to give a podium also to a positive voice, we invented this laughing contest."  By 'we' Spronk means conceptual artist Saskia Korsten.  Both live in the Amsterdam district of De Baarsjes, a neighborhood with regularly appears in the news in a negative way.

De Baarsjes was also the first neighborhood where immigrant youth took to the street for this game.  With a mobile phone with a camera, they challenged their neighbors for a 'battle'.  Whoever burst out laughing first, lost.

"Sometimes the enmity was palpable," says Spronk.  "But mostly these were overcome.  Therefore this pilot was certainly a success."

The youth don't act wholly from idealistic motives, admits Spronk.  Some key figures from the youth groups are paid if they get at least ten peers to take part in the laugh-contest.

Besides the video clips of the afternoon, shows a map with the current result.  Blue areas are those where the laughter "won back" the street.  Neighborhoods in red still need to be conquered with the laugh-contest.  That will happen June 27, when the Muslim youth enter the second battle.

Source: Trouw (Dutch), see also Kijkstrijd's YouTbue channel.

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