THE PLANK DECEMBER 5, 2009
Ian Buruma's New Yorker piece on the attempts of Dutch liberals to manage Muslim immigration in the Netherlands has one particularly interesting nugget. The piece is not online but Buruma--while narrating some history--notes that relations were relatively smooth until Muslim women began to arrive (previously, men from places like Morocco and Turkey came to work without their families). This, in turn, necessitated more visible signs of Muslim and immigrant communal life, which led to friction between the new arrivals and native Dutch communities.
Buruma does not mention it, but I wonder whether the arrival of Muslim women (which really began in the 60s and 70s) also played a role in radicalizing immigrant men. It has been known to happen. Just glance at any former British colony and look at how British officers behaved once British women arrived on the scene. The presence of their precious women made the men suspicious, insular, and fanatical. Indian history, especially, is replete with hinge events (notably the Amritsar Massacre of 1919) set in motion by colonial officers enraged that British womanhood was being insulted (or, God forbid, violated). Even the creation of the British Raj--which replaced the East India company--owes something to the outrage felt by many British citizens over the supposed dishonor brought upon British women during the 1857 rebellion. The male's need to control the female cannot be overestimated as a historical force.