Recent trends in religious adherence and practice among Muslims in the Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular
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In the last 60 years, the number of Muslims in the Netherlands has increased considerably from 300 to more than 827,000. Immigration, in particular from Turkey and Morocco, was the main cause. In the same time period, Dutch society was secularising to a large extent. About 60% of the Dutch population is no longer affiliated with a religion. This paper focus on two questions. Is the Muslim population secularising as well? Is a Muslim religious identity hindering integration in, or identification with, (secular or Christian) Dutch society? To answer these questions, the results of recent surveys, both on the national and on the local (Amsterdam) level, have been analysed after considering existing theories on secularisation and immigrant integration. The results show that after initial indications of secularisation, there is no secularisation among Muslims of Turkish and Moroccan origin in the last decade ; mosque attendance by the second generation has actually increased. Existing theories on secularisation, such as the classical secularisation paradigm and market theories can not explain these developments, perhaps with the exception of the theory of existential security. Also assimilation theories do not prove to be valid. It appears that there is a continuing religious vitality among these immigrant groups as a consequence of socialisation in immigrant families and communities with relatively strong intra-group ties. Also the possibility of a kind of “reactive religiosity” in confrontation with an increasing public hostility towards Islam cannot be excluded. Concerning the second research question, there proved to be a positive correlation between religious identification (with Islam) and ethno-national identification (with the country of origin), which could hinder integration in, and identification with, Dutch national society. However, it does not hinder identification with the local (Amsterdam) society, which is relatively strong and functions as a “ bridging identity ” with the national society.
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