Indonesian Mystery Solved

A while back, (before the advent of this blog,) I read some study which claimed that Indonesian Muslims in the Netherlands commit far less crime than other Muslims in the Netherlands. (It’s been a long time, so I can’t find the study right now.) This seemed mysterious: what’s special about Indonesian Muslims in the Netherlands?

Perhaps Indonesians just have really low crime rates, I thought. (According to Wikipedia, Indonesia’s homicide rate is way lower than ours.) Perhaps Indonesians have something special about them culturally or genetically. Maybe it’s just very difficult to get from Indonesia to the Netherlands, so only a special sub-set of Indonesians makes it. Or maybe there just aren’t a lot of Indonesians in the Netherlands, resulting in measurement error due to small N.

Now I’ve found another, should have been obvious answer:

“My husband is of Dutch Indonesian heritage & was among the first wave of immigrants of color to arrive in Holland after Sukarno exiled them after the revolution. The Dutch Indonesians assimilated quickly into society, worked hard & were too proud ever to rely on the generous Dutch social safety net. In fact, my husband & his brother attended Catholic school, excelled & became a prominent dentist & business owner. Then, the various waves that followed included the Turks, Moroccans, Somali & Surinamese who had difficulty assimilating into the homogeneous society & placed a heavy burden on the already extremely overtaxed citizens. Many of the devout Muslims demanded that the tolerant & permissive Dutch should change their society especially after the murder of film director, Theo van Gogh & threats against Somali women’s right activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This is too much pressure for such a small country & now the society is full of conflict & increasing crime & stress.” —carla van rijk, NY Times commentator quoted by iSteve.

That’s right, the Dutch colonized Indonesia, ages ago. The Dutch East India Company and all that. Which means there exists (or existed) in Indonesia some population of people who already spoke Dutch, were educated in Dutch-run schools, were potentially even part-Dutch, culturally Dutch, or at least fairly familiar with Dutch culture. And if these people were employees of the Dutch government in Indonesia who were expelled after the end of colonialism, they may have viewed the Netherlands quite favorably.

Something similar may be true about folks employed by former colonial governments in a lot of countries.

At any rate, clearly this is a different situation, in many ways, than the circumstances surrounding most other groups headed to the Netherlands.