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October 2017
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The Quest for a Better Future: Multiculturalism and the Dutch Liberal Model.

Migration Concept


The terrorist attacks perpetrated in Paris on November 13th, 2015, gave rise to a climate of fear where Islamophobia has spread in an exponential rate throughout Europe. In the context of the acts of terror in France, a country densely populated by adherents of Islam, questions relating to the integration of ethnic minorities in the long run, emerge. The general mistrust in the French integrity model have generated doubts in the success of reaching multicultural consensus on a global fashion.

However, referring to the broader picture of the European region, one must take into account the integrity policies of countries, in which Muslim communities constitute a significant percentage of their demographics. Such as the case of the Netherlands where 6 per cent of the domestic population is of Muslim descent.

Throughout the years, the constitutional monarchy near the North Sea has attained itself the image of a country with the highest degree of tolerance amongst its population. Dutchness has been connoted with inclusiveness and transparency due to the toleration policy regarding soft drugs coupled with the legislation of homosexual marriage. Well known for the promotion of intercultural understanding and respect of diversity, Holland is home to multiple ethnic minorities.

Due to its extensive history of colonial practices, the Netherlands is one of the first European countries to implement strategies that prompt the civic engagement of ethnic communities for diminishing social marginalization. The large-scale immigration of masses coming from former Dutch colonies in the 1970’s has enabled the domestic policy regarding tolerance to evolve in a manner that bests accustoms newcomers to the Dutch culture.

In its finest form, the Dutch liberal model is addressed as the fundamental institutional custom for the creation of a Dutch nation-state which constitutes a unified political landscape composed of multiple political, cultural and religious groups called “pillars”. By granting ethnic groups the ability to express their voice in a constitutional manner, a negotiable consensus between the dominant social group and the minority’s demands is reached.

Similar to the French context, Holland experienced turbulence in both its political and social terrain caused by terrorist hostility when in 2004, Theo van Gogh was assassinated by a Dutch-born Muslim in the heart of Amsterdam. Much known as a provocative figure and proponent of the freedom speech, Theo van Gogh displayed an overly-abusive portrayal of Islam and its adherents in a film he directed, and thus provoked aggression.

In immediate response to the murder, dozens of hate crime incidents against mosques and sites where Muslims reside had been carried out. The rosy picture of a utopian world where democracy prevails over autocracy had become a mirage, along with the illusion of Dutch safety. Hence, the aroused social tension between the dominant secular social group and the insulted religious minority gave the benefit of the doubt in the Dutch politics of tolerance.

The belief that all immigrants are at risk of radicalization, dispersed through conservative media channels, emerged in the public agenda. The social discourse had been dominated by the notion of civilizations clashing due to cultural and religious incompatibility, distinct form political and ideological reasoning. On the verge of that clashing, a divisiveness between the autochtonen (natives) and allochtonen (newcomers) triggered disputes on the peaceful coexistence of social groups.

However, the adequate backlash of the Dutch authorities against the over exaggerated potential for religious conflict minimized further atrocities. Through reinforcing the recognition and acknowledgment of cultural pluralism in policy, the key objective of the integrity model of finding communalities over differences is highlighted. The success of the Dutch liberal model lies on the grounds that the alterations in the predominant social discourse have limited the dispersion of hate speeches and anti-Muslim attitudes.

In the course of the decade preceding the individual incident of terror based on Islamic motives, the nobleness of the Dutch character has been proven many times. The collaborative practices of the local Dutch municipalities and social institutions in successfully settling the huge influx of asylum seekers in the country during the last quarter of 2015, demonstrated the efficacy of the politics of tolerance.

Adhering to the French circumstances, the emerged overwhelming social divisiveness indicates the poor competency of the French executives to handling the hindered social cohesion. For the sake of preserving its social stability, alterations in the internal policies regarding the integration of religious or ethnic communities have to be implemented by the local government. Nonetheless, society as a driving force has to take the initiative to change the perceptions towards minorities and Muslims in particular.

This only happens by a process of demarginalization where the Muslim population is moved up in the socio-economic ladder through inclusiveness is social dynamics. Increasing the interaction between social groups by involving Muslim communities in all aspects of social life will aid the dissociation of the majority’s perception form the stereotypical portrayal of adherents of Islam as antagonistic and hostile to religious pluralism.

By introducing a conceptual framework for accommodating non-natives to local standards, based on the Dutch liberal model, multicultural awareness is inevitable to arise in the French public consciousness. However, in order to secure the success of such a policy, tolerance has to become a core characteristic of the French civilization, not only of the Dutch one. The idea of multicultural consensus implies the sacrifice of making compromises for the well-being of the general population in the long run.

Despite the skepticism towards the integrity of social minorities that has engulfed the European region, the future in front of us bright as all European member states at some point will come to understand the importance of reaching social consensus. And when that point in time comes, implementing the core principles of the Dutch liberal model onto different social contexts seems to be the only way for creating the ideal of a utopia where multiculturalism is connoted with coexistence.


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