Dutch Minority Groups

Figure 1.--

The Netherlands has several ethnic and religious minorities. Some like Catholics have a long history in the Netherlands. Others like Muslims have only arrived in substantial numbers since World war II. We only have limited information about minorities in the Netherlands. For years the principal minority was the Jews. The Jews played an important role in Dutch hisstory, especially the Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Dutch Jews were devestated by the NAZI Holocaust and have never recovered. The largest minority group is now the Turks who descended from the Guest Workers who came to the Netherlands after World War II. After the Reformation there was a small Catholic minority, but I know little about them. As a result of the Netherland's colonial empire there are Indo-Europeans. This group is from what is now Indonesia (Dutch East Indies), but it is impolite to call them Indonesians. There are also Antillians and Surinamers. There is also now an Islamic minority. Many are other Muslims, especially Moroccans. Many of these minority groups are concentrated in the cities, especially Amsterdam.

Individual Minorities

There are several important minorities in the Netherlands, some of long standing. Jews began arriving after theyc were expelled from Spain (1492). Catholics becane a minority as aesult of the Redormation (16th century). Other miniorities are people from the country's fiormer colonialnmempire, many arriving after World War II. In more recent years, Muslims from the Mioddke East gave arrived aattracted byv the country' affluence and toleratuiion of cultural diversity.


There are also about 100.000 Antillians in Holland. They came from the Caribbean islands Curaçao, Aruba and Bonnaire, the Dutch Antilles. Like the Surinamers they are not well-liked in Holland. Many Dutch look on them as drugdealers and thieves. They really don't have a good reputation.


After the Reformation there was a substantial Catholic minority, but I know little about them. The Reformation in the Nettherlands was accompanied by a 80-year war against to resist the efforts of Catholic Spain to wipe out Protestantism and Dutch independedence. The War was finally won in 1576 by Prince William of Orange-Nassau. One interesting question is how they were tolerated by the governing Protestant minority. Unlike the other minorities, they are not ethnically different from other Dutch who are mostly Protestant. In an earlier era of Dutch history, we suspect being Catholic brought with it considerable disadvantage, although we know little about it. Nordo we know about the role of Dutch Catholics in the Dutch War for Independence. The Flemish to the south in Belgium also speak Dutch and are Catholic. Flanders essentially is Catholic because the Spanish succceeded militarily in regaining control of the area afterthe Dutch revolt in the 16th century. A Dutch reader tells us, "As far as the Catholics are concerned, they are not a small minority. According to the latest figures from the archiebiscopal office in Utrecht there are nearly 5 million Catholics in the Netherlands, to be exact: 4, 6 million. The total population in Holland is 16 million. Holland, however, is possibly the most irreligious nation in the world. Lots of churches are empty and are being used for other purposes than religious services. So I really don't know how many people consider themselves Christians (Protestants and Catholics), since they were baptized. In my case, my parents did not belong to any church and I never was baptized."


Indo-Europeans come from what is now Indonesia. A Dutch reader tells us, "You have to be careful not to call them Indonesians, although they all have Indonesian blood in their veins, because these people feel more Dutch than Indonesian. They were born in Indonesia (or the Netherlands East Indies as that country was called when it still was a Dutch colony), but unlike the native Indonesians they spoke Dutch at home, were Christians and usually had Dutch family names (also sometimes French or German). They went to Dutch schools and were considered Dutch citizens. During the Japanese occupation many of them were interned and died in the camps. When Indonesia became independent in 1949 most of the Indos left for Holland, a cold country, far away, but where they nevertheless wanted to live. They always were royalists and often more patriotic than the Dutch themselves. Between 1945 and 1957 300.000 Indo-Europeans came to Holland. They were the most succesful immigrants. Not only are they intelligent, but they are modest, hard-working people who assimilated within a short time and became totally integrated into Dutch society. They were welcomed and accepted by the Dutch population in spite of their often Oriental appearances.


There were two Dutch communities in the Netherlands: the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim. The Sephardim arrived in the Netherlands by sea along with other Portuguese traders and became permanent when the Inquisition targeted Portuhuese and Spanish Jews. The Ashkenazim arrived overland beginning in the mid-17th century. These two communities remained separate, but the Dutch Republic recognized only one community to which a level of autonomy was granted within the larger Protestant (Calvinist) community. The authorities tolerated thev Jews to a greater degree than other Protestants and Catholics. Jew could not fully participate fully in civic life or join a guild. Dutch tolerance of Jews, however, led to a level of trust among the Jews and an approach of negotiation and compromidse. The Sephardim faced the problem of aiding newly arrived Jewish refugeees. Some Dutch Jews during the 19th century integrated into Dutch society and became secularized. Often moving away from traditional Jewish areas. Others maintained Orthodox traditions and continued to live in Jewish neigbothoods, especially in Amsterdam. The bulk of Dutch Jews tookmiddle-of-the-road approaches which mean that they were not fully integrated. There was even a kind of Jewish economy. The Dutch diamond industry and segments of the textile industry were heavily Jewish. Many Dutch people did not fully accept Jews, although there attitudes were often more descrete than in other European countries. Anti-Semitism grew during the 1930s, both because of the Depression and the arrival of large numbers of German Jews. Dutch Jews were devestated by the Holocaust. The NAZIs killed about 75 percent of the Jewish community, one of the highest rates in occupied Europe.


One of the smallest groups of immigrants in the Netherlands are the 12.000 Moluccans. The Moluccans hail from the island of Ambon in the Eastern part of Indonesia. The Dutch colonial government employed them as soldiers in the Royal Dutch East Indian Armed Forces (KNIL). Most of the Ambonese were Christians. They fought the Japanese invaders and remained loyal to the Dutch after the war when Indonesia became independant. They could not stay in Indonesia, because they did not want to be part of the new nation. They wanted their own independant country. So they were brought to Holland where the 3rd generation, born in Holland, now lives. The younger ones all speak Dutch and have no desire to go back to Ambon. Many Dutch see them as good people and respect them like the Indos.


There also are 284.000 Moroccans in Holland. I'm not sure why so many Moroccans have immigrated to the Netherlands. Of all immigrants they commit the most crimes, a lot of it organized. In the city of Rotterdam 80 percent of the robberies and hold-ups are done by Moroccans. When the World Trade Center was destroyed by Muslim terrorists in the 9-11 attack, bands of young Moroccans were dancing and celebrating in the streets in several Dutch cities. Needless to say that they are not exactly popular in Holland. They are also known to be fraudulent like claiming to have more children than they really possess in order to receive more benefits from the government. Other Dutch people are also concerned with their general resistance to many of the basic values of the Dutch people like the treatment of women and free expression. A Dutch reader writes, "A Muslim nurse was fired from her job in a hospital because she refused to wear short sleeves. She however claimed compensation and she received 8000,00 euros. [De Telegraaf] Nearly all the letters to the editor expressed their outrage about this fact. She did not deserve anything. These were the (hygienic) rules of the institution and if she did not like it, she should go back to where she came from (Turkey). The Dutch are getting tired of this demanding behaviour by Muslims. Several theaters were asked to reserve a row of seats especially for Muslim women who were not allowed by their men to sit next to an unknown male. Also some Muslims refuse to shake hands with "Christians" as the Dutch custom is. Others slaughter a goat on the balcony of their appartment in front of the door and many Muslim girls insist wearing a head scarf whereever they go. The list goes on and on. Worst are the Moroccan gangs that act like real gangsters. Many Dutch citizens are scared of them. I am afraid that the famous Dutch tolerance is disappearing."


Another large group are the Surinamers, people from the former colony, Suriname, in South America (North of Brazil). Most of them are black, descendants of slaves, but there are also some Chinese, Hindus and Javanese among them, all born in Suriname. That country became independent and more than half (300.000) of the entire population left for Holland. Proportionally this may be largest voluntry migrsation in history. I'm not sure why so many migrated to thev Netherlands. The Surinamers are not nearly as popular and respected as the Indo-Europeans from Indonesia. The crime rate is high and they are accused of being lazy and trying to live off wellfare. Most of them live in the capital, Amsterdam.


A large group are the Turks. As in Germany, they were invited after World War II as guest workers. The idea was to have them returned after they were no longer needed in the industries, but they stayed and got their families from Turkey to join them. Now they are the largest minority, 330.000 persons. Most of them are hard-working and no trouble makers. They do not assimilate, however, the older people hardly speak Dutch and, of course, they are Muslims. The younger Turks have their conflicts with the parents, especially the girls. Some Dutch cities already count a few Turks in their governments and the future looks promising. The younger Turks do not want to return to Turkey.

Other Muslims

There are other Musims in the Netherlands in addition to Moroccans and Turks. Most have come to the Netherlands as refugees fleeing chaos, violence, religious intolerance, and poverty in their Muslim majority countries. Most Mulims in the Netherlands are refuges are the descendents of Muslim refugees. It is interesting to note vin contrast to the propaganda against America and the West, most violence directed at Muslims, is by other Muslims in majority Muslim countries. Majority sect Muslims commonly persecute and attack minority denominations. It is in countries like the Netherlands, Britain, Americs, and Israel where Muslims are able to worship in freedom and security. Incredibly, even though Muslims have come as refugees from failed Muslim countries which grant Islam referred status in their constitutions. Many believe that Sharia Law and Lislam in general should be adoptd in the West. A good example was an unidentified Muslim man (his name and etnicity seems to have been withhld in press reports) who inteupted a concert attended by Queen Beatrix (2011). He was sometimes identified as the consucyor, but there are few if any notgable Muslim conductors. He lectured the audience and the Queen on the beauty of Islam and why the Dutcg should convert. The orchestra walked off stage, the Queen and audience did not. Interestingly Muslim internet bloggers criticise the Dutch for not letting the man have his say. Of course not once mentioned is what would have happened to a Christian doing something similar in a Muslim country. What seems notably absent among the Muslim minority not only in the Netherlands, but in other Western countries as well is any sense of gratitude for the refuge they had been granted and the freedom in which they have to practice their religion.


The descriotion of the Duch minorities here come largrly from a Dutch reader in the United States. The comments reflect Dutch popular attitudes as well as some statistical data. It certainly is not meant to describe individuals. Our reader comments, "I admit that I am blunt in describing the minorities in Holland. But you see, I am reading the Dutch newspapers every morning and from relatives and friends I know what's going on overthere."


The Netherlands since the end of World War II (1945) have pursued a policy of multi-culturalism. This meant acceoting a diversity of relions, ethnicities, and cultures. The countryb has aong history of tolerance. And the NAZI occupation convinced most Dutch people that tolerance has to be pursued at vurtually any cost. The NAZIs decimated the Jewish population. Large numbers of colonial people emigrated to the Netherlands after the War, especially after the loss of the Dutch East Indies colony (Indonesia). In more recent years, large numbers of Muslim Arabs (many Moroccans) and Turks have emigrated to the Netherlands, attacted by the country's tolerance and willingness to accept immigrants. A series of incidents as well as personal experiences with Muslim immigrants have over time concinced many Dutch people that muklti-culturalism has been a tragic mistake. A Dutch readerc writes in 2011, "The Netherlands, where 6 per cent of the population is now Muslim, is scrapping multiculturalism. The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multi-culturalism that has permitted Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands. A new integration bill, which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament (June 16, 2011) reads: "The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society." The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands ..." The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants who ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law. The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, "it is not the government's job to integrate immigrants." The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013. Holland has done that whole liberal thing, and realised - maybe too late - that creating a nation of tribes will kill the nation itself. I wonder if Canada, UK, USA and Australia will consider this option?"


"Moslima ontslagen om lange mouwen" (Muslima fired for long sleeves) De Telegraaf (July 25, 2009). A Dutch reader tells us that there were 532 reactions from the readers! I read most of them, but I did not read them all. About 90 percent were in favor of the dismissal without any compensation.


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Created: 3:19 AM 7/10/2004
Last updated: 2:05 AM 3/23/2015