Caught in the middle of a diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands, as a DutchTurk, is not an easy position to find yourself in. I can only speak for myself, but maybe my view can contribute to a better understanding of how many Dutch Turks experience the current events taking place in the Netherlands.
Since the Turkey deal and the coup attempt the Dutch government and media have pointed their arrows towards Turkey, Erdogan and their Dutch Turkish citizens. Especially the ones who vote for AKP. The diplomatic row was an eruption of the tensions which were built up between the two countries. I am ashamed as a Dutch woman and ashamed as a Turk. I am ashamed of my prime minister Rutte who said: ‘The minister of foreign affairs of Turkey is not welcome before or after the Dutch elections.’ Ashamed he did everything in his power to prevent minister Kaya from speaking to her people here in the Netherlands.
But honestly, it was a very bad decision of the Turks to come to the Netherlands a few days before the Dutch elections. I fear that thanks to their visit fascist Wilders will attract even more voters. Prime minister Rutte will also benefit from this row, this was the best thing that could happen for a government with an anti-Turkey and an anti islam sentiment. Erdoğan has also his way now, even the seculars of CHP condemn the behavior of the Netherlands and gathered behind him. A win win for populist parties in the Netherlands like Wilders PVV and Erdoğan, who victimized the Dutch Turkish community for electional gain. A community who was already under big scrutiny since the coup attempt.
You may think by now: this piece is written by a AKP Turk. No. I have never voted for any party in Turkey and if I would, it wouldn’t be the AKP, and in the upcoming referendum I would have voted NO. This piece is written by a person who is concerned that her people, the Dutch Turks will be more and more oppressed and treated as second class citizens in the Netherlands than they already are. Politicians have a strong argument now to convince their voters that Dutch Turks are not well adjusted to Dutch society ‘because some of them vote for Erdogan and wave with Turkish flags in the streets of Rotterdam.’ In the Netherlands they have successfully managed to frame AKP voters as badly integrated people who vote for a ‘fascist’ or ‘dictator.’ And as you can guess, even other Dutch Turks who oppose Erdogan, are very happy with this unfair frame put upon their fellow citizens. Logic and nuance, is gone. Either you are a fascist Turk, or a ‘good Turk.’
I would like say a few thigs to the Dutch government as well as to the Turkish government:
Dear Rutte, I know you don’t like Dutch Turks very much, you said ‘pleur op’ (go way) to us and when you talk about us you call us Turks, not Dutch citizens or Dutch Turks, except during the row with Turkey. When it suits your interest you call us ‘your Dutch citizens.’ Prime minster Rutte, you are not to mingle in matters that concern the Turkish identity of your Dutch Turkish citizens. You only can address them on their Dutch identity. There are 250.000 Dutch Turks, who have a right to vote in Turkey, what you did was disgraceful, not only to your ally Turkey, but to the nearly 500.000 Dutch Turkish citizens.
Dear Erdoğan, I wish you wouldn’t have sent your minister before the elections but waited untill after. And I wish you would stop provoking the Netherlands. Your behavior only suits your interest, not ours, here in the Netherlands. You only made populist parties here in the Netherlands bigger and empowered the stigma politicians and media put upon us Dutch Turks.
The day after the diplomatic row, mister Buma, the leader of the Christian Democrats, said he wants to get rid of the association agreement with Turkey, because he thinks it would fasten the integration of Dutch Turks, portraying a false image of failed integration. Studies show more than 80% of the Dutch Turks are well integrated in Dutch society. With the upcoming elections in sight Buma, Wilders, Rutte and many other Dutch politicians are mainly busy with identity politics and they send minority groups a clear message: our culture is better then any other culture, especially the islamic culture. You either acknowledge our superiority and adjust, or leave our country. I am afraid this diplomatic row is only going to victimize Dutch Turkish citizens.