Young Muslims in the Netherlands: Caught up between school and the mosque?

In cooperation with the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

03apr2017 20:00 - 21:30


Similar to their peers in other European countries, young Muslims receive a lot of media attention in the Netherlands. They are often viewed as citizens who must still be ‘normalized’. In the past decade, there has been intense public questioning of their identities, loyalties, future aspirations, and in particular their likelihood to join extremists groups. With: Lida Sherafatmand, Martijn de Koning, Tasniem Anwar, Semiha Sözeri and Hülya Kosar Altinyelken.

At school, Muslim youth is subjected to programmes or narratives that aim at fostering their engagement and social integration, while at the same time schooling produces strong notions of these youth as the racialized Other. There are concerns that at the mosque, they engage with a competing citizenship agenda which favours loyalty to the homeland of their parents, and with values and norms that might be contradictory to the core values of the Dutch society. In this debate, we will discuss how Dutch Muslim youth negotiate their identities and loyalties while they are continually confronted with stereotypes and  negative media representations. Are they indeed caught up between two different worlds: the school and the mosque? Are the values and attitudes endorsed by schools coexist in harmony with mosque education, or is there contestation? Our discussion will further reflect on the relationship between religious beliefs and identity construction; youth strategies in dealing with discrimination and Islamophobia, as well as the potential of art to understand the internal and the external worlds of Muslim youth.

About the speakers

Lida Sherafatmand is an international artist who integrates social science research in the field of peace and conflict studies in her art work. She paints flowers while focusing on human nature. She has come up with an artistic concept of 'florescencism' which describes her creation process and commitment as an artist towards the well-being of people in our societies.

Dr. Martijn de Koning is affiliated with the Department of Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam and the Department of Islam Studies of the Radboud University Nijmegen. He has published on religious identity, militant activism, 'Salafism' and on the racialization of Dutch Muslims.

Tasniem Anwar is a lecturer at the College of Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam.  She has founded Amsterdam United, which is a student platform at the UvA, striving for more (awareness on) diversity and inclusion. She did research on how Muslim women negotiate their identities both at home and in their working space, and has been involved in different youth networks such as Humanity in Action and ECHO. 

Semiha Sözeri is a PhD researcher in the Research Institute for Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, and a junior member of the Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies. Her PhD project investigates the relevance and quality of mosque education. It aims to understand how and to what extent the pedagogical practices in the mosque classes influence the integration of children from Muslim immigrant families.

Dr. Hülya Kosar Altinyelken is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Child Development and Education Department of the University of Amsterdam. Her current research projects engage with young Muslims in the Netherlands, their identity development, citizenship notions and social integration.


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