The first thing I was told was about Geert Wilders and how he is a crazy politician and people don’t like the fact he is in government and people don’t think he is representative. There has been quite a few dining hall discussions about Muslims and the politics that goes with it. This is quite interesting but not totally new as the same fear and talk of Britain being full exists in the UK. However it has not led to the extremist groups being elected. The British National Party, in fact lost seats in the last election. However the bigger voice on the anti-Islam scene in the UK is not a political party but just a national group the EDL or English defence league. It is interesting in the UK as this group’s leader lives in the same town as the Muslim extremist leader, Luton, which is quite close to my home town.
The best thing I learned in this week’s talk and readings is why the minority party is Moroccan. I first learned it in social psychology class when talking about stereotypes and the teacher describe how in a virtual world people would stand closer to a Dutch person then a Moroccan. But now I understand that they were brought in as cheap labour. It seemed quite odd geographically why the Moroccans and Turks would come to the Netherlands. It was also interesting to learn how the first mosque wasn’t built to relatively recently even though the Dutch owned Indonesia; I hadn’t put the two together before.
I also am increasingly realizing from these talks that the Dutch do see themselves as tolerant a lot of the time, but this is strange for me as it is not a characteristic I associated with them and I only learnt it from this class. It was especially brought home when a joke was put on Facebook about the Dutch and the photo for “what we think we do” is tolerance, which makes me wonder how much foreigners do see the country as tolerant anymore. As from my perspective, before coming, I only thought of drug toleration and not general toleration. I also didn’t understand the caravan in the picture so I am obviously not an ‘other European’.