How Dutch people welcome ‘their’ asylum seekers

Geldermalsen, Netherlands, protesters, no to asylum centre

The Geldermalsen Riot. See their shirts? No to AZC= asylum centre. Angry that they have to share our resources, but spending money on such a shirt, no problem. Priorities, priorities..

Before we start about the root of this article, we first need to take a look at how Dutch people are. Then we can discuss how they treat ‘their’ newcomers: refugees aka asylum seekers, and why.

To sum up Dutch people and the Netherlands in a Dutch song from the ’90’s: 15 million people (Dutch title is: 15 miljoen mensen) It has English subtitles, so go ahead. You’re able to get an idea of what it’s about.

Dutch people and society explained on Expatica
Summarized, it comes down to a heavily dense population with almost seventeen million people on 41.543 km² and 18% is water. (See Wikipedia) I refer to a couple of sentences from Expatica, that will underline my point for the rest of the article.

  • ‘A democracy with a tolerant, open society.’
  • ‘Extremes are absent: political extremes, extreme emotions, extreme richness or extravagant lifestyles.’
  • ‘The Dutch way of working is time-consuming as no one can be given a quick order without explaining why.’
  • ‘Dutch people are not very service-minded.’
  • ‘The Dutch are famous in the Western world for the many hours a week they spend in meetings. Decision-making processes are complex. Changes are usually lengthy processes.’
  • ‘The Dutch directness in the communication. They speak in a friendly tone in rather short, clear, sober sentences lacking any form of politeness or courtesy. They will tell you what they think of you and criticise, indifferent of your status.’

Is Expatica correct?
As a native Dutch woman, who grew up here and never lived abroad, I can tell you that they come close. Admitting, it can feel a bit cramped with so many people on a relatively small piece of land. Many people living so close to each other, with many nationalities and cultures on top of it, can become a source of issues. That’s not only given to the Dutch. It’s for all people in general. Irritations start to fly, arguments can get out of hand and simple issues can become protracted matters.

Usually and normally, we veritably have a tolerant, open society. However, there are exceptions. One of them is Islam and the other is asylum seekers. In general, we lack extremes. We even often can come across as stoical. Demonstrating, for example, isn’t something we are used to do massively here, because of our ‘accepting’ attitude.
The way we work here is time-consuming. Everything needs to be discussed in meetings, noted down, registered and filed away. Certainly it has its pros, but we take it too far. A too detailed administrative environment was the result. We rely too much on processes. An often heard phrase is ‘it can’t be done’, if you ask for something that isn’t part of the fixed way. Exceptions can be made, but ‘we’ somehow are not fond of it. You have to make a real effort and even then sometimes ‘forget about it’. And we definitely are very direct in expressing ourselves. Foreign people often may feel we are argumentative or rude in behaviour. We’re not, in general. Like Expatica pointed out in that article, we say what we think. Most people will try to do that in a friendly normal manner, but we’re not sugar-coating or exaggerating our friendliness.

So, if you understand our ways or can accept them, yes, most of us are good people. It’s another story when the Islam and asylum seekers subjects come on the table. Anything related to that causes trouble. In that way, part of the Dutch population is reacting extreme. It’s even concerning. It’s not a new issue, but since many Syrian people need our help and come here, it has become more extreme. Luckily, not every Dutch citizen thinks like the group who has become aggressive, hostile, violent and intolerant. I, for example, am appalled how people, who strongly disagree with the many people we let in the country lately, respond in word and action.

In december 2015, in Geldermalsen, there was a public meeting about plans for a new asylum shelter for approximately 1500 people. Given, it’s not a big city. It’s a village. To house 1500 foreigners there, among the regular and relatively small population’s a bit much. Why didn’t they choose for a bigger village or city? However, municipality had informed the people about the meeting upfront. The response was ridiculous. Aggressive protesters showed up. Demonstrating is one thing. Sticking up for your cause, good for you. The manner how it happened in December, I don’t have one good word for it. The military unit had to show up. Police was everywhere. Around 200 protesters threw all sorts of materials to the police. Crush barriers ‘got dealt with’. They threw fireworks at the police. At that date it’s forbidden by law to have fireworks, let alone use them in public and against other people. It may all be more common in certain parts of the world, but for the Netherlands, this is extreme. Fourteen people were arrested shortly after the riots took place. For the public act of violence, destruction and insulting police officers. Six of them got out pretty quickly. The police considered a total of 24 people suspects. One man at least was detained for two weeks. He had thrown a concrete block to the police. One police officer got injured because of it. According to police, a total of 80 people were part of the riot. If it’s up to the prosecution office, the suspects won’t get off with just a fine.

Obviously, the protesters are against a new asylum centre in their village. It’s not the first time. In fact, that’s usually how it is. Here however, they took it to a new violent level to get their way. The meeting had to be cancelled halfway. The protesters didn’t allow it. It was unsafe to continue. They gave in to the violence and left the building. The most big-mouthed people, who act violent in groups, apparently get their way in this country. Likely, there won’t come any asylum centre there. Since the protesters now know they get their way with behaving like this, you can bet your behind on it, they will try it the same next time. He, it works, right! That’s also the Netherlands. They tell you it’s unacceptable, but in action they show you that is how to enforce your way. The police had a rough night, that’s for sure.

It doesn’t stop with that incident. In fact, before that there were already protests and after as well.

Some of more examples
How certain Dutch people are feeling about asylum seekers:
1. Date: November 2015. Place: Steenbergen.
Protesters demonstrate against plans for new asylum centre for the housing of the extra refugees.
2. Date: February 2016. Place: Enschede.
Hundreds of people gathered to protest against an asylum centre there.
Basically, wherever place a municipality tries, to help out people who fled for a very bad situation, she’s met with hostility and protest.
3. Date: february 2016. Place: Echten. District: Drenthe, one of the three Northern districts.
People who tried to be publicly more open-minded and friendly towards the refugees had nailed heart-shaped plates to trees.
They meant that as a positive message, placed in front of an asylum centre in Echten. Within two hours non-accepting people, who had put their protest plates there before, removed the positive plates. By the way. Those protest plates weren’t taken away by the friendly tolerant people. They were left untouched, because such people feel that everybody has a right to their opinion. Unless you’re not against asylum seekers, but want them to feel welcome. Then you don’t. Intolerant people are like that.
4. Date: february 2016
Leaders of parliamentary party’s, who opted publicly for a bit less strict asylum policy, has received threats.

The number of incidents, hostile people and enforcement in the Netherlands seem to grow and it is worrisome and needs to stop. Is this really how we want to be? Are we really that self-centered and egotistical that we don’t allow people in need to have a safe place? Are we incapable of sharing our sources? Are we now resorting to threats to get our way? I can ask many more questions. It comes however down to a new low for the Netherlands and I take a stand against that.


For this article I disabled the comment section.

  • This is a sensitive subject. It might attract people with short fuses.
    Then emotions easily could boil over and it could go out of hand here. No thank you.
    I don’t want that on my blog website.
  • My opinion on this one is not up for debate. Sorry.
    If you really feel censored now, you’re welcome to send me a mail through my contact page. When you’re capable of behaving like a civil adult, that is.

Google Search result page for the incident in Geldermalsen (English articles)

(Dutch links. Google translate, although not great, can help you get the picture. Right click on the page there and choose ‘translate to English’.)


  • Picture on the left: Police in front of crush barriers
  • Picture on the right: the NRC, a digital version of a Dutch newspaper
  • The other image elements will soon be credited on the copyright page
  • Complete picture’s created by Mirjam Penning

Author of (based on) True Crime and articles based on injustices.

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Posted in Injustices