‘The Roots of Evil’: Polarization and Othering in the Netherlands - How the securitization of Dutch counterterrorism and migration policies has contributed to processes of radicalization in the context of the refugee crisis.
Zoelen, F. van
MetadataShow full item record
In 2015, the large-scale influx of refugees to Europe became known as ‘the refugee crisis’, a term adopted by media, politicians, scholars and the public alike. Over a million people arrived in 2015 alone, mainly as a result of the Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State (IS). Through a critical qualitative analysis of Dutch counterterrorism and migration policies, this paper argues that a link between migration and terrorism exists. Using the framework of securitization theory, the relationship between these two phenomena can be localized in a process characterized by polarization. Marked by different perspectives on immigration, the Netherlands has witnessed growing tensions between its Muslim minorities on the one hand and its ‘regular’ Dutch population on the other hand. Since the turn of the millennium, (Muslim) migrants have increasingly been constructed as ‘Others’ because these new, unknown people were considered to pose a threat to Dutch society, economy, culture, religion and security. Consequently, the Dutch government adopted an approach that dealt with this problem from a security perspective. A similar, securitizing approach was adopted in the domain of counterterrorism. However, the government overlooked the fact that at the root of both problems was the ‘othering’ of migrants and, by extension, of Muslim minorities in the Netherlands who considered themselves to belong to the same collective identity (e.g. Moroccan Dutch people identify with asylum seekers from North Africa or refugees with an Islamic background). Its securitizing policies not only maintained this image of Muslims as ‘the other’, but only reinforced the perceived threats between these two distanced collectives. Thus, when it did not address this fundamental issue, polarization increased and reached its peak when the Netherlands was confronted with the refugee crisis of 2015. Afterwards, polarization turned into radicalization. Dutch people acted on the threat they had ‘foreseen’, as did Muslim minorities. In essence, then, the Dutch government created counterproductive policies that, instead of protecting the Dutch from a potential threat by focusing on its security character, only reinforced it. The securitization of migration and counterterrorism policies linked the issue of migration directly to radicalization processes and terrorism.