The Netherlands go where Turkey is coming from

By | April 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm | 4 comments | Armenians, Christians, Featured, Greeks, Kurds, Minorities | Tags: , , , , , ,

Fréderike Geerdink

“Abdullah Gül has no right to speak”, I hear all the time as a reaction to President Gül resisting the ideology of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, which discriminates against people and marginalises them. That’s because Gül has a problem handling minorities in his own country, the argument goes. Kurds and Christians in general and Armenians in particular are mentioned as examples. True. But let us not forget an important difference: Gül’s country is actually making progress when it comes to handling minorities, while the Netherlands are, under Wilders’ leadership, going backwards.

The problem that Turkey has with its minorities is solidly anchored in the pillars of the republic. One of the most important of those is: we are all Turks. So Kurds were named ‘mountain Turks’, Armenians and Greeks could officially exist as minorities but were in fact forced to assimilate or leave the country, Roma became society’s outcasts.

Since the AKP, the party President Gül hails from – he is non-party in his role as President – has been in power, the pillars of the republic are being questioned. As well, the truth that everybody in the country is a Turk is not as sacred as before. Mountain Turks have become Kurds, Armenians dare to be more visible than ever before, century-old churches are being renovated with state money and sometimes services are held which attract believers from all over the world.

It’s all not enough, and the AKP cannot keep leaning on the successes that have been realised over the last decade. It’s about time for new steps in the democratisation process. But silencing President Gül by pointing out the position of minorities in Turkey when he criticizes Wilders denies the development Turkey is going through.

And it denies the direction the Netherlands is taking. Under Wilders’ leadership whole communities are being placed outside society, because they are supposedly not Dutch enough, or are not respecting our ‘values’, or have a religion that threatens us. Why were the Kurds forced to assimilate? Because they were supposedly threatening the unity of the country, and because they were considered too primitive for the new, modern Turkey. Why were the Christians suppressed for decades? Because they were seen as threat to Turkey’s sovereignty.

That is just how in the Netherlands these days foreigners and Muslims are seen. They should become pure Dutchmen. The multicultural society has been abandoned, and government policies are more and more adjusted to the idea that we all have to be Dutch. In short, the Netherlands are going in the direction where Turkey is coming from. A scary direction, painfully illustrated by Turkey’s history.


This article is first published in nrc.next and journalistinturkey.com.

About the Author

Fréderike Geerdink

After almost 15 years of journalism in the Netherlands, at the end of 2006 I moved my office to Turkey. The first story I made in Turkey, in the fall of 2004, was about different generations of Turkish women in a central-Anatolian town. Since living and working in the country, I’ve written for a wide range of media in the Netherlands. Among the most important are the national Dutch news agency (ANP), several weekly opinion magazines and monthly magazines about human rights and environmental issues, as well as women’s magazines. Besides that, I’m a fixer for TV-stations that come to Turkey and need all their work to be arranged before they actually fly in.


  1. Stratos Moraitis (5 years ago)

    Intolerance, Prejudice & Discrimination
    An European Report

  2. Duygu Kara (5 years ago)

    This is like comparing apples with pears..

    I agree, it is truly disappointing for the minorities in the Netherlands that the past decade discrimination has become an official political expression – thanks to Wilders. And in Turkey we seem to be talking and discussing more openly about minority issues than ever, but can we- really?

    Minority issues relate directly with human rights and freedom of speech.. where do we have it most? In Turkey? In Turkey we are being ruled by people who deny homosexuals do exist, by people who believe journalists are rapists, and books are more dangerous than bombs.. In Turkey we burned our minority, our brightest people in an hotel 19 years ago and just dismissed the case.. In Turkey we have become scared, voiceless people, watching court cases after each other, running after writers who dared to publish their findings- if not their opinions.. In Turkey we are going for a world record in jailed journalists..

    I fully agree with these lines :“…I am no crazed nationalist…… Finally, I have to mention one crucial fact most reviewers neglect when dealing with matters Turkish. Since the Ottoman times, rulers in Turkey never valued human life, be it Muslim, Christian or Jew.….” ( The Broken Land, by Efstratios Moraitis)

    So tell me Frederike, who is going forward here?

    • Stratos Moraitis (5 years ago)

      The true dilemma here, for a western journalist as well as a local one is the face value vs the reality of the “progress” in Turkey in sociological terms.

      One full of mousetraps. The translation for the Islamic word “takiye” could only be given as “hypocrisy” in English which is far from what it means, isn’t it?

  3. Can Bayar (5 years ago)

    Turkey is going to a very dark place thanks to Gul, Erdogan and all other ‘conservative’ agents of this plot, Indeed they mastered their art of deception ‘takiye’.


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