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Islamophobia becoming increasingly normalized, Amsterdam Muslims say in study

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Muslims in Amsterdam regularly face discrimination, and they feel that it is becoming increasingly normalized in society. They report being unable to find an internship because of their religion, being called names for wearing a headscarf, and facing hate speech on social media without anyone batting an eye, researchers found in a study into Islamophobia on behalf of the municipality, Het Parool reports.

Many respondents called the normalization of Islamophobia a major problem in their lives which they can’t defend themselves again. At a certain point, they choose to just “learn to live with it,” the researchers said. They added that the study was too small for hard figures but did provide a good insight into how Amsterdam Musmilms experience discrimination. 

In school, children and teenagers are confronted with Islamophobic statements and reactions from pupils and teachers. Almost all respondents said they have problems finding an internship, while their white classmates manage to do so. The trend continues in the labor market, where respondents report being rejected because of their surname and background. They also face “completely irrelevant questions” in job interviews, such as about their feelings about gender relations, terrorism, LGBTQI+, or their loyalty to the Netherlands. If they complain, they’re accused of being unable to take a joke or playing the racism card. 

Women who wear a headscarf say they are regularly called names. Some report being spat on or assaulted. In public transport and shops, many Muslims feel they are either ignored or constantly watched by staff because of their appearance. On social media, Muslims face so much hate speech that some have decided to develop thick skin. Others say they’ll never get used to it and find it incomprehensible that this type of discrimination almost always happens with impunity. 

According to the researchers, respondents believe the normalization of Islamophobia is fueled by the increasing influence of the extreme-right spectrum of politics. The media also plays a role, with many respondents saying that the way Muslims are portrayed has a polarizing effect and contributes to a negative self-image. The Muslim community also has a role in this, with some respondents saying incendiary preachers harm society by magnifying the differences between secular and Muslim Amsterdam. 

The researchers said that the municipality of Amsterdam needs to do more to hold employers and employment agencies accountable for discrimination. 

“The study makes it clear that Muslim discrimination deeply affects and hinders many Amsterdammers on a daily basis,” said alderman Rutger Groot Wassink. “It contains useful, but also painful insights into their environment, as well as recommendations that are of added value for the municipal policy.”

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