President’s Speech in Algeria

                            “Multiculturalism in the Netherlands”

 

Your Excellencies

Mister President

Honourable support

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before addressing to you, I would like to thank my colleague Si Kamel Adjeriou, who unfortunately can not be with us at this Colloquium. Mr.Kamel Adjeriou, gifted in connecting people, presented me to Professor Aissani of the Abderrahmane Mira University here in Bejaia, always with the aim of bringing together our cultures, our peoples, for the wellbeing of all. Thank you Kamel!

Allow me first of all to congratulate Algeria on this commendable initiative for hosting this international colloquium on “Mediterranean Dialogues” dedicated to the 700th anniversary of the death of Raymond Lulle.

It is an immense honor and a great privilege for me to be offered by Algeria this happy opportunity as I find myself before an honorable panel of Algerian women and men as well as international eminences invited to this meeting You and all versed in art and culture and imbued with universal human values.

 

Before addressing the question of multiculturalism, allow me, honorable assistance, to emphasize that my responsibilities assumed are in direct line with the effort to enhance the links existing between Algeria and the Netherlands. As a reminder, in 2010, a celebration of 400 years of relations between Algeria and the Netherlands was initiated through a cultural program that lasted until the spring of 2011. Indeed, since the sixteenth century , Algerians and Dutch have common relations, sometimes passionate, but often friendly, in any case always rich culturally. It is this interpenetration of cultures which favors the knowledge of Algerian traditions and history by the Dutch.

 

This interpenetration is reflected in many events like Mama Binette, once worshiped by the people of Beni Haoua not far from Cherchel, and which illustrates an example of human and cultural integration. Of course there is a court side in all history, in the image of the relations between Ottoman corsairs and Dutch corsairs who sold arms to them.

 

But there is more. And this cultural interpenetration which represents the essence of the historical relations between the Algerian Nation and the Dutch Nation, we can also find it in Algeria through one of the major arts of civilizations, namely ceramics. Since the 18th century Dutch pieces of earthenware imported from the Netherlands, called eminently “DELFT”, adorn the palaces and mansions of the Turks in Algiers, notably in Dar Mustapha Bacha, Dar Essouf, Dar El Hamra and Dar Hassan Bacha.

 

 

Finally, I would like to underline the importance of the links between our two nations by recalling in the register of the history of the November Revolution 54 the many initiatives taken by the Dutch associations in this context, and in particular since 1959, Two million guilders to support the FLN.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Members,

 

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the initiative to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of Raymond Lulle. The Dutch nation owes much to this landmark of universal philosophy because it has been the melting pot of many philosophers who have worked after Raymond Lulle for the enrichment of world philosophical thought, such as Baruch Spinoza, Erasmus, HenricusRegius, Hendrik Laurenszoon Spiegel and Hugo Grotius. As an example, humanists close to Erasmus commonly called Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536) have long worked on the works of the Majorquin philosopher and have printed important works At the famous printer Guiot le Marchand in Paris.

 

 

Let’s talk about multiculturalism.

 

As we know, multiculturalism around the world is currently the subject of much passionate debates. My choice of this subject corresponds to my concern to work for a kind of demystification in a context now impacted by tensions and conflicts whose facts and events are reported by the media in a way that sometimes deserves to be discussed.

 

 

Democracy is a political choice. The Netherlands, like Algeria, which has begun its process of democracy, is a country that has opted for democracy for a long time. The country is one of the first in the world to have an elected parliament. Since 1848, the Netherlands have instituted a parliamentary democracy under the reign of King William II. Our country also has a long history of social tolerance and the death penalty was abolished in 1878.

In order to better understand multiculturalism in the Netherlands it would be necessary to go back a little. Only an explanation of the history of the relationship between the state and religion could help us to understand the question.

It should be emphasized first of all  that in 1848 the Netherlands consecrated the separation of the Church and the State. Thus, the new constitution had established the principles of religious freedom and freedom of education. Equality and freedom of faith groups are also recognized in the text. This separation first reinforced Dutch Catholics who had previously been considered second class citizens. Since then, even if the Reformed religion never became a state religion, it will be pre-eminent for several centuries. Since then, Catholics have been tolerated under conditions. Also Jews enjoyed more religious freedom, especially in Amsterdam, than the Dutch Catholic or even other Protestants. Nevertheless, they were compelled, as from 1619, to the strictest observance of their law. At the end of the eighteenth century, non-Calvinist Catholics, Jews and Protestants were granted full civil rights.

Since 1917, the Dutch state has recognized religious, political and philosophical diversity. Better still, it will co-finance it. Assimilated to a partitioning that is dangerous for the Nation, this diversity has often been the subject of controversy, particularly in the 1960s, when the student protest questioned this model which, for the youth, locks them in the family of thought of their Parents and prevent them from marrying someone from another pillar (the socialist and liberal pillars being more flexible on this point than the strictly religious pillars, but it was difficult to meet except in public schools where There was more mixing). This momentum was fostered by the arrival of large waves of Turkish and Moroccan immigration.

 

Thus the year 1983 marks an important turning point in the history of the country with the revision of the constitution which consecrates henceforth the primacy of the individual, and much less of the religious or philosophical collective. This is explained: today the vast majority of the Dutch are not assimilated to any religion.

This de-pilarization of the state and religion has made its way, but it has not prevented the institutionalization of Islam in the Netherlands according to a model of integration put in place by the public authorities who especially given the importance of the Muslim community since the family reunification of the 70s.

Since then, Dutch citizens of the Muslim faith have asserted many rights and have seen many of their claims fulfilled. Thus, mosques were built, ritual slaughter, the possibility of taking days off (paid or unpaid ) for religious reasons, Koranic teaching in public schools, and the creation of Islamic schools subsidized by the public authorities. In addition, Muslims have the opportunity to create various organizations and Muslim associations.

Since the public recognition of Islam in the 1980s, the Dutch state has taken the view that religious identity is not perceived as an obstacle to the integration of immigrant minorities. As a lever for better integration.

I should like to point out that today more than 200 people of Muslim origin sit on a municipal council. Thus, both the House of Representatives and the provincial states have a number of elected representatives and / or Muslims. Like the current Mayor of the port city of Rotterdam, the biggest city in the Netherlands, as well as the President of Parliament who is the first in this post. In defense of their interests, Muslims make use of the mechanisms and possibilities of Dutch democracy and rely on this tradition of segmented pluralism inherited from pilarization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the 1990s, the question of immigration became a political issue throughout Europe, particularly for certain political parties. It should be pointed out that, unlike citizens with other religious affiliations, the status of Muslim is seen from two angles: the Muslim of confession and the Muslim ethnically. Thus, on the one hand, in the name of the separation of the Church and the State, Muslims (since 1983) can not expect too much public support for questions of the religious sphere. On the other hand, Muslims belonging in their great majority to “ethnic minorities”, considered by the public authorities as disadvantaged populations, targets of the integration policy, must be helped to find themselves on an equal footing with the Dutch “Indigenous” (in “advance” on them in terms of places of worship, associations, schools, etc.

To solve this state / religion equation, the state no longer subsidizes the construction of churches or mosques since 1986. Nevertheless, Muslim associations can obtain subsidies if they pursue an approach favoring integration in the eyes of the public authorities.

Today with the fear of foreign interference or influence of international Islamic organizations, important debates are engaged. Training imams arouses controversies and apprehensions about the influence of any external interference. Reflection on intercultural dialogue is an extremely important necessity.

 

We strongly encourage this seminar and hope that it will enable us to evolve towards new visibilities generating prospects for peace, love and the promotion of human values to our peoples.

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

Eveline J. A. AMERICA

Bejaia/ Algerie ,  octobre 2016