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Monday 22 December  
Islamic school
Heleen Sittig's picture
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dutch Muslims looking for a good orthodox school

Published on : 15 February 2011 - 5:00pm | By Heleen Sittig (Photo: Charles Fred)
More about:

The schooling of a group of Muslim pupils in Amsterdam has become the prize in a hard-fought battle. Hundreds of Amsterdam school kids may end up staying at home next year. Not because there’s no place for them, but because their parents have no faith in the city’s non-Islamic schools.

Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt recently announced that the ICA, an Islamic secondary school in Amsterdam, would have to close its doors. The school was attracting too few pupils and the inspectorate ruled that its teaching was substandard. In such cases pupils are usually sent to another school, sad that their old school had to close but ready for a new start nonetheless. However, many of the ICA’s pupils are orthodox Muslims and don’t feel welcome at Amsterdam’s other schools. And there is no other Islamic secondary school in the city.

Making a fuss
The father of one pupil says “I’d like nothing better than to send our children to a regular school. But that’s not possible because a school that genuinely accepts our children the way they are just doesn’t exist. Other schools make a big fuss about all kinds of things. You have schools that place restrictions on how you dress. You have schools that put pressure on the children to go on school trips abroad.”

Parents and pupils have come up with an idea so that the children can continue to be taught in an Islamic setting. They have decided to embrace teaching at home. It’s an option open to them under Dutch law if there is no school in the area that reflects their spiritual views. Parents do not have to apply for permission to do this; they simply have to report the fact to the authorities.

The parents and pupils plan to tackle the matter professionally: this will be home education in name only. They hope to bring around 100 pupils together in a community centre and prepare them for state exams under the tutelage of capable teachers. But it is debatable whether this counts as teaching at home. D66 Democrat MP Boris van der Ham believes it doesn’t. He says the parents are taking advantage of a legal loophole, and are actually setting up a new school without having to meet the quality criteria that would otherwise apply.

Admission to society
Amsterdam’s Executive Councillor for Education, Lodewijk Asscher, thinks the plan is a bad idea. The Labour politician describes a good education as “a ticket that gives you admission to society”. He says “We are talking about 100 children, 100 young people who will soon be expected to make a contribution to this city and this country. They have a right to a good school diploma, they have a right to education, they have a right to meet other people, to become part of society. If you keep them at home with their parents teaching them, you’re denying them that right.”

A growing group of young Muslims believe that religion and education are inseparable. One girl who used to go to the ICA tells Mr Asscher “If you really cared about us, you’d respect us. You’d respect what’s best for us. Why won’t you let us make our own choices?”

Lodewijk Asscher argues that a good education should win out over an orthodox education. And he’s prepared to go to court to prove his point.


Radio Netherlands Worldwide


Alena 30 October 2014 - 7:03pm / Germany

Hi there, I am Nilsa but I don't like when people use my full name.

To play country music is the hobby she will never stop doing.
He is a dentist. I currently live in Virgin Islands.
I am running and maintaining a blog here:

Sand-Grain 7 December 2012 - 5:15am / Canada

Here in secular Quebec, Canada, no Christian prayers are allowed in Catholic schools, no particular religion studies is on any student curriculum - but a lot of radical Muslims have imposed religion and Arabic studies by force after-school classes, some schools accepted it because they were threatened with the all-mighty slurs such as the old fashion "racist-card" although religion is NOT a race - classes have been held, most of the young students in elementary classes are over worked by religious text they cannot make it well for the French language at all!!

Anonymous 12 September 2012 - 8:41pm / US

The Dutch should start doing what some of the Scandinavian countries are doing and force these people to attend public schools. It would help them integrate; and, by the looks of it, those young girls would benefit from some physical education so that they don't turn out fat like their mothers. I never understand these people. They come to the West and claim that they want accptance and to be a part of society; yet, they do nothing but set themselves apart in ways that will insure that other don't like them and don't want them around. I guess the welfare benefits are a lot better than what they left behind.

Anonymous 12 July 2012 - 11:37am / Australia

Please be reminded that al the religions which formed the Dutch tolerant system for years accepted the government. Muslims do not and never will. Don`t be fooled that muslims ever will accept a secular nation.

eslaporte 14 October 2012 - 10:31pm

That's what they used to say about Catholics. "Catholics will not accept living with Calvinists, Lutherans, Erasmus humanists and are spying for the Spanish."
My, my, my - history repeats itself in the Netherlands...

eslaporte 29 May 2012 - 5:15pm

@ Hiram1
The problem is that the Dutch don't know their own history and national traditions. Above - we see Dutch people who probably think Pim Fortuyn "was a great hero." How sad...
The title of this "series" by RNW "lack of integration of non-Western immigrants." This is all wrong for the context of Dutch history and culture. First of all, learn some Dutch history and culture, how tolerance was devolved and the pillar -system - which worked to bring peace and harmony to Dutch society. Get the well-cited book "Politics of Accommodation" by Arend Lijphart. You will learn that patriotism in the Dutch context came to mean expression of patriotism by many different religions and secular communities. It had to, especially for Catholics. Like Muslims today, Catholics were once suspect of their loyalty to the Dutch nation and had to acquire patriotism for the Dutch nation in the context of national liberation by a protestant and Reformist-church supporting William the Orange.
So - were you all calling on the "integration" of Catholics during the pillar days? The reality is that if you really want to end the Dutch pillar tradition - you should also force Catholics to wear the colour orange everyday and remember how the people of the Low Countries were liberated from the Spanish occupation.
Actually - the Dutch need to go back to the pillar system - what worked and brought peace - and stop trying to force "foreign" and "un-Dutch" notions of "integration and assimilation" on other religious and ethnic groups.

Anonymous 4 February 2012 - 10:46am / Australia

Most left countries that are now not ruled by the dictators who ruled them when they left. Send them all back to the countries from whence the came. They don't go anywhere to integrate - only to over-run and eventually, to conquer. I don't believe that giving them their own way will solve any problems - WE are their problem. The silent majority do not want this culture in their countries, yet they keep coming. They will never integrate - it was never their intention. The governments that represent us do not ask our opinion on this, do they? We are second-class citizens in our own countries. Our children must obey the laws of the land when it comes to education - why does this not apply to migrants?

Anonymous 17 February 2011 - 6:24am / Lalaland

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.

Hiram1 16 February 2011 - 8:37pm

"The Netherlands is Islamic. And Christian. And Jewish. And atheist. And so on...When one of these groups is marginalized it is an affront to Dutch society."...It is an affront to the Dutch society or any free society when an Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or atheist person or a collective group of the previous mention demand that the public establish "pubic" schools specifically for their religion. Public schools are for all the previous mentioned citizens. When one is at home, or in a mosque, church, or temple, one should should be able practice one's belief. It is an affront to force people like an "atheist" to pay taxes to support a religious school or force their children to be indoctrinated with religious dogmas. Home, mosque, temple are the places to practice religion...not a public school of mixed religious beliefs and customs. It is an affront and this why the schools mentioned in the article should be closed. To protect the rights of "all" citizens, not just the Muslims.

JW 16 February 2011 - 7:45pm / NL

The Netherlands is Islamic. And Christian. And Jewish. And atheist. And so on...
When one of these groups is marginalized it is an affront to Dutch society.

Yijiang Wang 17 June 2011 - 5:46pm / Xi'an China/Toronto Canada

Languages are merely tools and should remain humble and plain. Our common goal is to easily obtain this easy tool. Why constrain ourselves into a subcategory rigidly when we are capable of upgrading to a main category? What's that main category covers all religions? We shouldn't step backwards after we have already progressed.

Anonymous 17 June 2011 - 6:17pm

i suggest not typing capital letters anymore in order to not triggering troublesome sub-sub category, slavery, and unnecessary actions. Let's unite by not typing capital letters. It's time to capitalize words that only will contribute in essence.

user avatar
knirb 19 February 2011 - 7:46am

Your marginal comments burst with PC platitudes and buzz words.
These people have marginalized themselves and belong to a religion that is notorious for marginalizing just about everyone.
As fundamentalists, they represent the worst of Islam. The irony is that they are demanding civil rights while being indoctrinated not to respect them.
They have nothing to offer the Netherlands. They should go live where they will surely be welcomed, in Saudi Arabia or whatever sand trap they came from.
It is encouraging to know that very few Dutch Muslims want to see their daughters receive a substandard education.
You may want to put your attention on these relevant articles where your defense-of-marginalized-minorities comments are prominently absent:

alicia kent 22 June 2011 - 11:15pm / Minnesota, USA

Knirb, I agree with you.
Minneapolis, Minnesota (somolians call it "Little Mogadishu") is overrun with welfare dependant somolians. 6+ kids per woman, up to 10 wives per welfare dependant somolian male. Their numbers are unknown, as somolians want their real numbers to be unknown. Minnesota has 350,000+ somolians as an estimate.
We don't want them in Minnesota ... and we spurn them because they are primitive savages. They have no plan of integrating anyway, and we don't want them around us. So they all live in government assisted housing and all others move out.
Senator Amy Klobachar started immigrating them into Minnesota again last summer because she is up for election in 2012. She will need somiloian votes to get elected. Minnesotans are learning of her love of somolians and mexicans and her popularity is falling like rock!

Hiram1 16 February 2011 - 5:06pm

"Hundreds of Amsterdam school kids may end up staying at home next year. Not because there’s no place for them, but because their parents have no faith in the city’s non-Islamic schools."...It is not about one specific school but "all" "non-Islamic" schools in the city. Muslims want no part of the Dutch society that is not Islamic. They marginalise themselves from Dutch society intentionally by forcing their Islamic belief system on the public-school system. They want nothing less than Sharia law in the Netherlands and they will not stop until the Netherlands is Islamic. If they hate the Dutch so much, why did they leave their Islamic homeland? They left because they are taught to immigrate to those non-Islamic countries and change them into Islamic. It is a duty required of them. They hate and despise you because you are not Believers. When they become the majority, you will not have any religious freedom. When you step out of line, you will be punished and it will be severe. Go to an Islamic country and observe firsthand how humans are treated by such a loving religion. Public schools are for people of all faiths/religions should not be taught in a "public' school system. Tony Dentino is correct.

Tony Dentino 16 February 2011 - 11:01am / USA

Not happy with the school system return to your own country.

JW 16 February 2011 - 12:52pm / NL

These are Dutch Muslims. Living in a country that used to be famous for its attitudes about freedom of religion. The Netherlands is now becoming famous for the way it marginalizes minorities.

Anonymous 16 February 2011 - 1:15am / USA

Ridiculous! If these people want to live in Holland they should just allow their children to go to regular Dutch schools like everyone else, or go back to their home countries, where their children can attend public schools and not have to worry. When my children were of school age I lived in Holland, France, Spain and England and they went to regular schools like the locals did. It was a great experience for my children. Old expression : "When in Rome do as the Romans do." Certainly the Muslims (or anyone else for that matter) must have given this some thought before they had children???????????? By allowing their children to associate with the locals, it would help all the children to grow up together without feeling "different" and help them to become feel at home in the society their parents chose to live in.

jasmin 15 February 2011 - 5:16pm / India

We have this problem here too, in Amritsar. I found very few Muslim students in rural or urban schools. Most Muslims here, prefer sending their children to madrasas-schools in Mosques. They remain cut-off from the mainstream kids and lose out on many things. But, you cannot force them to be in normal schools...;(...

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