Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

Netherlands: Information on mistreatment of, or discrimination against, Muslim children by school authorities; recourse available to parents; reports of violence or intimidation by skinheads against Muslims; police response (1995-2002)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 8 November 2002
Citation / Document Symbol NLD40231.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Netherlands: Information on mistreatment of, or discrimination against, Muslim children by school authorities; recourse available to parents; reports of violence or intimidation by skinheads against Muslims; police response (1995-2002) , 8 November 2002, NLD40231.E , available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

No reports of mistreatment or discrimination against Muslim children by school authorities could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The Coordinator of International Affairs at the National Centre for School Improvement, a non-governmental organization aimed at strengthening the educational system in the Netherlands, stated that "to [his] knowledge no mistreatment or discrimination of students by school authorities has been reported in the Netherlands" (5 Nov. 2002). The Founder and Secretary of an anti-bullying organization in Utrecht, however, reported that she knew of cases in which students had been bullied by teachers, but that she did not have any information about Muslim students (You Are Special! 1 Nov. 2002). An unsuccessful attempt was made to obtain information on Muslim schoolchildren from a foundation in the Netherlands which represents people from the Moroccan and Tunisian communities.

With regard to recourse available to parents whose children are bullied or mistreated by teachers, the representative of the National Centre for School Improvement wrote that:

If parents feel that their children have been mistreated, they have many options to file complaints. There are state or city funded organizations where they can discuss the problem anonymously, they could go to the national inspectorate that is independent from both school authorities and government, they could ask for the assistance of the organizations that advocate the interest of the Muslim population of our cities, they could discuss the issues with the authority itself, and of course they could go to the police (5 Nov. 2002).

Moreover, schools in the Netherlands were recently given the choice to implement an external third party system to resolve conflicts between students and authorities; however, according to the representative of the anti-bullying organization, most schools did not adopt the system (You Are Special! 1 Nov. 2002). The representative stated, however, that there are a variety of approaches taken by schools to address conflicts between teachers and students (ibid.).

The U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2001 estimates that in 1998, approximately 700,000 people, or 4.4 percent of the population of the Netherlands, were Muslim (26 Oct. 2001). The report states:

In 1999, the Discrimination on the Internet Registration Center recorded 181 complaints about discriminatory statements, racial discrimination, or anti-Semitism on the Internet ... Non-Europeans, such as Turks, Moroccans, or refugees from Iran and Iraq are occasional victims of discrimination, but primarily on racial or ethnic grounds and not because they are Muslims (International Religious Freedom Report for 2001 26 Oct. 2001).

The representative of the anti-bullying organization commented that in her opinion, there is a growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the Netherlands which is evident in public protests against the building of mosques (You Are Special! 1 Nov. 2002). Human Rights Without Frontiers also reported that there are signs that sentiment against Muslims is increasing such as revealed by the popularity of new far-right political parties (19 Mar. 2002).

Several other sources report incidents of threats and violence towards Muslims since 11 September 2001 (De Standaard 27 Sept. 2001; Keyhan 7 Oct. 2001; Agence France Presse 21 Sept. 2001). Shortly after 11 September, De Standaard reported:

Last weekend it became clear that there were tensions, when mosques all over the Netherlands were blackened with anti-Islamic slogans or damaged.

An anonymous person made several phone calls to an Islamic primary school in Maastricht, saying, "You should be killed." Last week an Islamic school in Nijmegen was set afire (27 Sept. 2001).

Moreover, Dutch Muslim primary schools may soon be the targets of investigation by the government after a controversial 2002 report published by the Dutch National Intelligence and Security Agency (BVD) claimed that one in five Muslim primary schools receives money from Islamic fundamentalists (Human Rights Without Frontiers 19 Mar. 2002; Radio Netherlands 20 Feb. 2002).

Although no reports of violence or intimidation by skinheads against Muslims could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, a 1995 report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) entitled "The Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads" provides general information on skinhead activity in the Netherlands:

The skinhead movements in ... various countries are extensively linked with each other. This "Skinhead International" is maintained through the travels abroad of popular Skinhead rock bands and their fans; the worldwide marketing of Skinhead paraphernalia and recordings; the sale and trading of publications known as "skinzines"; the wide exchange of propaganda materials and other correspondence; and, increasingly, the utilization of electronic communications, the Internet and computer bulletin board services.


The Netherlands neo-Nazi Skinheads have assaulted and killed perceived enemies. They also dot the ranks of a broader Dutch racist movement; several belong to a small neo-Nazi organization and to two far-right political parties.

...[T]he Skinhead movement in the Netherlands has undergone a revival in the last two years. Experts there put the number of Skinheads today at 300 to 600.


Until 1990 most Dutch neo-Nazi Skins belonged to the Dutch Youth Front (JFN) and the Action Front of National Socialists (ANS), a small neo-Nazi group linked to a banned German organization. ...


Some Skins are members of the Center Democrats (CD), another far-right party which has three seats in Parliament (US Newswire 28 June 1995).

An unsuccessful attempt was made by the Research Directorate to obtain information from the Netherlands Police Institute regarding incidents of skinhead violence against Muslims and the subsequent response by police.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse. 21 September 2001. "Dutch Police Unable to Confirm Mosque Arson Attack Linked to US Terror Attacks." (FBIS-WEU-2001-0921 21 Sept. 2001/WNC)

De Standaard. 27 September 2001. "Dutch Poll Highlights Growing Tension Between Dutch, Muslims." (FBIS-WEU-2001-0927 27 Sept. 2001/WNC)

Human Rights Without Frontiers Int. 19 March 2002. "Muslim Schools Under Fire by Dutch." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

International Religious Freedom Report for 2001. 26 October 2001. "The Netherlands." United States Department of State. [Accessed 1 Nov. 2002]

Keyhan [Tehran, in English]. 7 October 2001. "Tehran Daily Views World Violence Against Muslims." (FBIS-NES-2001-1010 10 Oct. 2001/WNC)

National Centre for School Improvement. 5 November 2002. E-mail correspondence from the Coordinator of International Affairs.

Radio Netherlands. 20 February 2002. "Concern About Muslim Schools." [Accessed 31 Oct. 2002]

US Newswire. 28 June 1995. "Text of ADL Report 'The Skinhead International; A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads'." (NEXIS)

You Are Special! 1 November 2002. Telephone interview with Founder and Secretary.

Additional Sources Consulted

Unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ottawa, the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Vancouver, and the Netherlands Police Institute

IRB Databases


Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International (AI)

Consulate General of the Netherlands in Vancouver

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. "The Netherlands"

Freedom House.

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Islamic Human Rights Commission

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights

Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (unable to access electronic information)

Netherlands Police Institute

United Nations

World News Connection (WNC)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld