Intersectionality, digital identities, and migrant youths

Moroccan Dutch youths as digital space invaders

Authored by: Koen Leurs , Sandra Ponzanesi

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Kop of Munt (in English, Head or Tail) is a nine-minute movie uploaded on You-Tube. The video is accompanied by a tagline explaining that Head or Tail offers a sketch of the day Moroccans left the Netherlands en masse. The video was made in October 2009 by MUNT, a collective of Moroccan Dutch young professionals. Its multiple uploads have attracted 450,000 online views so far, spurring a heated debate in mainstream Dutch news media. The video presents an exaggerated inventory of the consequences—at least according to prevailing stereotypes about Moroccans—of what the Netherlands would look like if people of Moroccan descent left the country: Newspaper delivery stagnates because white Dutch youths do not want to take up low-paid paperboy jobs; theater performances by Moroccan Dutch artists are canceled; barbershops close down; newspaper opinion sections are left empty because Islamization, the headscarf, and street crime cease to exist; taxis become scarce; social housing projects are abandoned; prisons are put up for sale because they are untenanted; satellite dishes—often mistakenly seen as emblematic symbols of segregation and the failure of integration—disappear from view; and requests for social services decline. The very exaggerations of the online video counter anti-immigration sentiments and Islamophobia by exposing the absurdities in the Dutch debate. Kop of Munt references Die Stadt ohne Juden, a 1924 film suggesting what would happen if Jews disappeared from Vienna, and A Day Without a Mexican, a 2004 film depicting what would happen if all Mexicans left California. The video teases out pre-set ideas about Moroccan Dutchness, offering a new take on the positive contribution of migration and fostering greater intercultural understanding. Islamophobia in the Netherlands targets the Moroccan Dutch community, especially after the 2004 political murder of controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by the Moroccan Dutch Mohammed Bouyeri. 1 That assassination was itself interpreted in the light of the September 11, 2001 Islamic fundamentalist attacks in New York. Spearheaded by former Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party PVV and abetted by sensationalist commercial news media, both national policy and media discourse deny “Moroccan youth” (who are often born in the Netherlands) the Dutch national identity. They are dismissed as a danger, problem, financial burden, or nuisance. Moroccan Dutch boys are assumed to be “street terrorists” and/or Muslim fundamentalists; girls are constructed as either unemancipated or oppressed by Islam and in need of rescue. 2

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