SPIOR: Monitoring Islamophobia in the Netherlands – an explorative study

Dutch Islamic and migrant organisations are stepping up their fight against Islamophobia in the Netherlands. Recently the Collective Against Islamophobia and Discrimination published an open letter to minister of Social Affairs, Asscher, and political parties to take action against Islamophobia. Yesterday the Dutch local platform for Islamic Organisations in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond (SPIOR – Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond) published a research report on Islamophobia: Monitoring Islamophobia in the Netherlands, in cooperation with CIDI (Center for Information and Documentation on Israel) and RADAR (Rotterdam Anti Discrimination Action Council).

SPIOR is a partner in the European Islamophobia Monitoring and Action Network (IMAN); an initiative of FEMYSO, the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations and CCIF (Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France) that started in 2013. FEMYSO is also chair of the European Steering Committee of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) and a contributor to the anti-Islamophobia work of the OSCE. The IMAN project aims to tackle Islamophobia by creating a network of organisations in eight European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, UK and Hungary). This project aims to create a cooperation network of organisations working to monitor and raise awareness of Islamophobia in the countries mentioned above and at the European level.

In this Dutch publication, made possible by a contribution of the Open Society Foundation, the authors (Fatima Zahra Lachhab, Semir Kheder, Marianne Vorthoren, and Hanife Özdem) explore the necessity and possibility of an Islamophobia monitor in the Netherlands. They defined Islamophobia as: a worldview based on fear and dislike towards Islam and Muslims which (can) result(s) in practices of exclusion and discrimination.

Based upon their research (literature, interviews, expert meetings) they claim that fear of, hatred of and aggression towards Islam and Muslims is a real problem in Dutch society. Although recognized by some stakeholders the problem is still being denied by others and even if it is recognized it gets less attention compared to other modes of racism and discrimination. They state that Islamophobia needs a spokesperson (or rather: organisation), like CIDI is for anti-Semitism in the Netherlands and also requires an effective way to gather and present the necessary input; hence a specific monitor on Islamophobia in the Netherlands is recommended. In total they sum up eight recommendations:

  1. To make a specific monitor on negative perceptions of Islam and discrimination of Muslims in the Netherlands
  2. To continue to use the term Islamophobia for this monitor
  3. To make a clear distinction in ideas and incidents in the monitor
  4. To embed the monitor in existing infrastructure
  5. To look into separate categorisation of and instruction on Islamophobia
  6. To set up a registration bureau on Islamophobia linked to the monitoring agency
  7. To start a campaign among Dutch Muslim communities to promote reporting of discrimination
  8. To continue investing in prevention of Islamophobia

Download the full report HERE.

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