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Becoming Dutch

"Becoming Dutch"

“Becoming Dutch”

Artist’s statement:

In countries such as the Netherlands, growing Muslim communities are struggling with the pressure to integrate. There are many reasons for this. First, Islam has a widespread association with terrorism, and therefore with fear. Second, the cultural integration process for Muslims in the Netherlands is inhibited by labor laws that have made highly sought-after, low-skill jobs increasingly difficult to find for immigrant families. Third, the Dutch also seem to be concerned with the traditions and practices of Islam which undermine the individuality and openness that the Dutch equate with their democratic values. According to recent polls, 51 percent of the Dutch population disapprove of, and are frightened by, the Islamic community.

The construction of a new, centralized mosque in Amsterdam symbolizes these various tensions. In order to be built, it was required to conform to the rigid stylistic requirements of the “Amsterdam School.” The spokesperson for the Muslim community stated: “We do not want an ugly big white pastry in our neighborhood, as you sometimes see when they build a new mosque. Our mosque will be completely in the style of the ‘Amsterdam School,’ such that it fits perfectly in the neighbourhood and becomes a real Dutch mosque. That should be the future of all mosques in this country: in line with the physical and social environment.” The goal for this is that Muslims will not be an “envisioned alien element,” but rather “Dutch citizens-to-become.”

This work depicts the various pressures put on the Muslim community in Amsterdam. The traditional Delft china pattern on the woman’s hijab and the brick on her face symbolize the struggle to blend in as the community constructs a new mosque in Amsterdam.


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