Dutch-Moroccan organisations publish manifesto
A group of 38 Dutch-Moroccan professionals and organisations has published a manifesto called Stop criminality Among Moroccan Youths, intended to break the passivity in their community regarding crime among young Dutch people of Moroccan descent.
In the manifesto they say: “Our society is increasingly confronted with crime and violence committed by young Dutch-Moroccans…The criminal behaviour of these young people has led to Dutch people of Moroccan descent increasingly being regarded as second-rate citizens, who more and more often are merely being tolerated, rather than accepted. In addition, the violent behaviour of these young people is taking on ever more serious forms and claiming an increasing number of victims.”
The group says it wants to increase awareness of the high crime rate among young Dutch-Moroccans being a major social problem for which their own community needs to take responsibility. The signatories include police officers, prison staff, teachers and social workers. They argue that intensive coaching, correction and re-socialisation are crucial to “Get these young people back in line."
“The Moroccan community still adopts a passive stance in the fight against crime among their young people, thereby creating the impression that they believe the ensuing problems are not their concern. They are mistaken. Dutch people of Moroccan descent in particular should do everything in their power to fight this problem.
“It is ‘their young people’ who are the cause of it and it is they who are being blamed by society." And their crimes are more and more often directed at the Moroccan community, an increasing number of which are falling prey to youth violence.
A police officer who signed the manifesto points to the system of community centres which he says has not changed in 20 years. “Table football and having fun, and not a shred of education”: it’s highly frustrating to see that major welfare organisations hardly ever adopt ideas suggested by the Moroccan community, he said.
Younger and younger
Amsterdam social worker Najoua el Yakoubi, who provides psychiatric and educational advice to families, said that involving the Moroccan community is exactly what is so desperately needed. She has found that hardly anything has changed in the past 10 years, “But the problems are growing ever more serious. In my neighbourhood and at work, the boys at risk I come across are getting younger and younger.”
Najoua el Yakoubi believes her cultural and religious background make it easier to communicate with her target group. “Dutch aid focuses on personal responsibility, but many Moroccan parents are unfamiliar with the concept and need to be led by the hand. I try to do this by presenting problems to the parents entirely from the child’s perspective and vice versa. In this way, I encourage parents and children to work together”.
Another signatory, Mustapha Ouatiq, was 15 years old when he came to the Netherlands. For the first three years, he felt uprooted, out of place. He did not speak the language, his teachers had low expectations of him and he faced widespread discrimination.
“As an adolescent in a track suit, I saw an elderly woman fearfully clutching her bag as I boarded a bus. I internalised my anger, but eventually got back on my feet thanks to the help of teachers and some others. But many young people take to the streets or turn to religion. There is growing hatred against society. ‘You are doing this to us’, they say, and many take to crime."
However, Ouatiq believes tailored coaching can save many of these boys. He gives problem youths job application courses. “There are many things they have never learned which seem self-explanatory to us, such as being on time, giving a firm handshake and looking the other person in the eye. So they are not accepted for work placements and are unable to find steady jobs.
The signatories plan to meet regularly to advise organisations and policy-making officials. Social worker Ibrahim Wijbenga, son of a Frisian father and a Moroccan mother, said, “Think of us as a think tank with added value. We want to emphasise that Dutch-Moroccan juvenile delinquents are not just our problem; they are a burden on society as a whole but receive too little quality attention." Wijbenga argues that too much energy is invested in de-radicalisation. “We lose more young people to crime than to Salafism.”
Radio Netherlands / Expatica