Netherlands: Radicalism level higher among Moroccans

Netherlands: Radicalism level higher among Moroccans

According to a study by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (University of Amsterdam) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 8% of the Dutch Muslims see themselves as very religious: 12% of Moroccans and 5% of Turks. This comes out to 24,000 very orthodox Moroccan Muslims and 12,000 very orthodox Turkish Muslims. [ed: See below for a breakdown, these percentages only apply to those who define themselves as Muslim.]

These people do not shake hands with people of the opposite sex, don't listen to non-religious music and prefer not to go to places where both men and women are present. They support a theocracy and distinguish themselves by accepting violence.

"That is bad news from democracy," says political scientist Jean Tillie, who worked on this study together Ineke Roex and Sjef van Stiphout for two and a half years. "These people have very nasty views."

He doesn't think, though, that these people constitute a serious threat. The most orthodox Muslims are mostly older, less-educated, unemployed Moroccan men. "That is a group which we know won't throw bombs so fast. the people who commit violence have until now always been young hotheads with too many hormones."

Tillie's assessment is based on the fact that the respondents support a theocracy, but have trust in the Dutch government and their leaders. Somebody like Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo van Gogh, would have answered these questions in the negative.

Sjef van Stiphout: "Orthodoxy doesn't predict radicalization. With Mohammed Bouyeri a combination of entirely other factors played a part."

Tillie: Geert Wilders doesn't differentiate between orthodoxy and radicalization, but that isn't true. He is right that there's an orthodox group with nasty notions, he is not right in its extent. Where Wilders says: a true Muslim is a Mohammed Bouyeri, we say: the true Muslim is an old, friendly man in a gown."

Source: Parool (Dutch)

I did not read the entire study (available here), but I was curious as to how the researchers decided who is 'very orthodox'.

The researchers first asked the respondents whether they were Muslim, of another faith or not religious. 89% of Moroccans and Turks answered they were Muslim. 8% of Moroccans and 7% of Turks said they were not religious, 2% of Moroccans and 3% of Turks said they had a different faith. In the 'others' group, 31% said they were Muslim.

To decide the religiosity level of those who defined themselves as Muslims, the researchers asked them whether they allow (sometimes or always) for themselves the following or not:

1. Watch movies which show naked women
2. Be in a place where alcohol is served
3. Are men allowed to wear gold jewelry
4. Postpone the obligatory prayer
5. Listen to non-religious music
6. Are men allowed to wear pants below the ankles
7. Shake hands with with somebody of the opposite sex who is not your spouse or close relative
8. Go to places where men and women are jointly present
9. Greet others on non-Islamic holidays (such as birthdays or the New Year's)

The researchers then divided the respondents into three groups:
Not religious: those who said everything was allowed
Moderately religious: those who said 1-4 was not allowed
Orthodox: those who said 5-9 was not allowed

It would have been interesting to see how the 'not religious' group would have answered on more widely followed religious commandants, such as eating pork and fasting on Ramadan.

In any case, the results:
Moroccans: 28% not religious, 61% moderately religious, 12% very orthodox
Turkish: 46% not religious, 49% moderately religious, 5% very orthodox
Others: 49% not religious, 48% moderately religious, 2% very orthodox

The researchers divide the very orthodox into three groups: political Salafis (who are engaged in society), apolitical Salafis and Jihadis.

Salafis, for example, require that Jihad be led by an Islamic leader (Khalif) and say that Jihad is not allowed against the 'lands of covenant'.

In theory this should be enough to make Jihad a theoretical possibility, rather than a practical religious commandant. But what the researchers ignore is that radicalization is a process. There have been quite a few young Muslims who started off by listening to Salafi preachers (who might denounce al-Qaeda and require a Muslim state to lead the charge), but then go on to join the Jihadis, who think all leaders are corrupt and that offensive Jihad is an obligation on the individual.

See also: Netherlands: Salafi Muslims don't believe in violence