People who have seen the Dutch soccer fans at tournaments will have noticed it: much more than the national tricolor with red, white and blue, Orange is the national(ist) color. Orange refers to the color of the House of Orange-Nassau, the Dutch ruling monarchy. On birthdays of people of the royal family the Dutch flags have an additional orange banner.
And next week is Queensday, traditionally the day when the Queen’s birthday is celebrated also a day when many people (in particular those who celebrate in Amsterdam, the Hague and Utrecht) wear orange clothes.
Queensday is in many cases a celebration not only for native Dutch people but also for migrants and in particular the younger generations. This time it has led to a new initiative called the Louka. A group of students will hand out more than 5,000 orange headscarves on 30 April to promote tolerance in the Netherlands in a ‘playful’ way.
The orange headscarves will, according to the students, allow Muslim women to express their loyalty to their faith as well as to the queen.
The two students, Melissa Oosterbroek and Ben Rogmans, who initiated the action said they are annoyed by the rabble rousing in politics and in society over the wearing of headscarves.
The orange headscarves were partly sponsored by a EUR-3,000-prize awarded by the Haarlem council for the students’ initiative.
Now I don’t think a public expression of loyalty to the monarchy is necessary. One can be a republican in this country and still enjoy Queensday. Moreover I think that again such an initiative, how well the intentions may be, puts too much emphasis on Islam and on Muslims who apparently need to show their loyalty to the monarchy (and therefore to the Netherlands). Although it is meant to show that there is no inherent contradiction between loyalty to the faith and to the queen (and I agree with that) I’m afraid it will do exactly the opposite. As a Dutch male I don’t have to anything to show my loyalty to whatever institution and by focusing on Muslim women it in facts problematizes them and their loyalty. It also ignores the fact that many Muslim youth already wear orange in case of soccer championships and Queensday and my (anecdotal) impression that Orange is already a very inclusive form of banal nationalism that only requires the color Orange for people to be included in the festivities (whether one is migrant or not).
This maybe a very sour comment so let’s just think hey it is party time and when you wear a headscarf you get access to the Louka afterparty on Queensday. See also the video on Youtube (in Dutch):
[flashvideo filename=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9keJLJWIgPg /]