In the 1990s and 2000s, certain developments and incidents were noticed, which had an impact on the debates about migration and integration of Muslims. Both left-wing and right-wing politicians stated that the multicultural society and the integration of immigrants had failed. Moreover, an increasing number of politicians claimed that Islamic norms and values were incompatible with Dutch norms and values. These developments and incidents contributed to the islamisation of the public debate, meaning that Muslims were problematised, all cultural aspects but religion were ignored and diversity within Muslim communities was ignored. This study investigates to what extent Dutch parliamentary policy documents contributed to the islamisation of migration and integration debates inthe Netherlands in the period 1994-2006.The definition of islamisation is based on three aspects: the first aspect is identifying Muslims mainly through their religion, the second is identifying Islam as a problem and the third is generalising Muslims.To find out whether there was an indication of islamisation in policy documents during that period, a selection of parliamentary policy documents on migration and integration related to Muslims was analysed in this research.Two methodological approaches wereused to analyse the contents of the policies: close reading and distant reading. Close reading is the precise study of selected texts and distant reading the algorithmic analysis of a series of texts. What can be concluded is that the government and policymakers do not agree with the ideas and statements about Muslims in the public debate and they do not openly problematise Muslim communities as a whole. They formally try to stick to their ‘neutral’ position, try not to be guided by mainstream ideas from the public debate and finally try not to make policy based on prejudices. Nevertheless, in policy documents they endorse the fact that there are problems with the integration of Muslims.Moreover, the problems with emancipation of women and homosexuals and Islam are related to the cherished liberal values in the Netherlands. What is seen as a threat to those liberal values is projected onto Islam.The specific focus on Islam and the problematisation of Islam in the public debate and policy documents influence how Muslims are treated in society and how they are discriminated against based on ill-defined stereotypes. The discussions in the policy documents are much more nuanced than in the public debate and there are, of course, many people who emphasise the diversity within Muslim communities. Nevertheless, that does not alter the fact that there is islamisation in policy documents.

Additional Metadata
Keywords migration, integration, islamisation, policydocuments, policy frameworks, the Netherlands, minorities, Muslims, Islam, distant reading, close reading, digital humanities
Thesis Advisor D. Douwes
Persistent URL
Series Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society
N. van Roessel. (2019, July 4). Islamisation in Policy Documents A digital historical research on migration and integration policies in the Netherlands between 1994 and 2006. Maatschappijgeschiedenis / History of Society. Retrieved from