Bloody Iranians

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On December 10 at 10:30am, a court hearing is scheduled at the Palace of Justice in The Hague. The case which will be dealt with in court was brought by the “actiegroep Iraanse studenten”, a group of Iranian students in the Netherlands, against the Dutch government. The issue at hand is that since July 2008, the Dutch government has banned Iranian citizens from parts of certain university graduate programs, mostly involving nuclear or rocket propulsion studies.

This edict is not only extremely stigmatizing, it’s also ridiculous and pointless. Obviously, it’s also discriminatory.

Here are some of the locations and studies off limits to Iranians in the Netherlands.

+ The nuclear research reactor in Delft.
+ Masters degree in chemistry and physics related to studying subjects related to developing rocket fuels.
+ Masters degree in aeronautical engineering related to the study of rocket propulsion systems.

Professor Ashley Terlouw (Dutch politician Jan Terlouw has a daughter called Ashley, but I could not confirm it’s the same person), who became ‘hoogleraar’ (professor) at the Radbout University in Nijmegen in September this year, researched and presented a paper with her acceptance of her position, on fear and legislation (“angst en regelgeving”), related to the distinction the Dutch government makes on the basis of nationality, decent and religion, focusing on the sanctions against Iranian citizens mentioned above.

She found that “the study of the Sanction Regulation has not only shown that the legislator has in this case answered the question of effectiveness instrumentally, but also that the instrumental approach does not satisfy”.
Terlouw goes on to say that “the responsible ministers have ignored the stigmatising and other effects the sanction regulation has for Iranian citizens in the Netherlands and its inkblot effect towards other employers and organisations” and that “the effects of the regulation are probably also determined by the general political climate in the Netherlands, the many discussions in the media and politics on migrants, Muslims, Islam and the government’s use of the term allochthonous people for large categories of Dutch people”.

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The word ‘allochthonous’ might need some explanation. In Dutch, the word ‘allochtoon’ refers to a Dutchie who was born abroad or of whom at least one of the parents was born abroad. I’m allochthonous, as will be my children. Indeed, the Dutch queen and the future King and Queen of the Netherlands are all allochthonous.
The result is that, generally, there’s a distinction between allochthonous people from the west and elsewhere, though Indonesians and Japanese are grouped together with the westerners (how’s that for logic?).

The problems with the sanction relate to the implicit consequences. Terlouw: “Because the Dutch government has made regulations aimed at citizens having the nationality of an Islamic country, this probably does feed the fear of Muslims; it gives a signal that all Muslims have terrorist aspirations.”
Terlouw defines the sanction as an example of irrational regulation: “Regulation on the basis of fear will – if this fear is not analysed and dissected into elements that can be reduced to real danger on the one hand and irrational feelings on the other hand – only be effective by accident and the chance of undesired side-effects is great.” with the crux of her research being that “categorically excluding Iranian students and scientists from certain fields of science and locations could be effective by accident, but it is not proportional and there are alternatives that result in no or less distinction”.

The obvious danger of a sanction such as this is the sliding scale which has been deployed to support a regulation which is dubious to begin with. Terlouw: “Fearful people are inclined to regard […] persons with another nationality, origin or religion as the source of […] danger. Complying regulation strengthens this effect. The results of the research of the [sanction] show that when the government lays down rules on the basis of nationality and origin, there is a risk that also other organisations than the government and the norm addressants will regard those involved as a dangerous group and treat them as such, also outside the bounds of the specific regulation. Moreover, among the members of the groups involved, such rules result in fear and uncertainty about their own identity and position and in loss of confidence in the government.” (My emphasis.)

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Of course, I’m more attentive to this issue because it affects me personally. As Terlouw points out, it’s easy to suspect that I’m not to be trusted by and am stigmatized by definition. Perhaps, some day soon, Iranians, or those considered to be Iranian, will have to sow a green patch on their jackets for them to be allowed out on the street, only having access to certain shops to buy their goods.
Hell, why not start the pogroms now?

If you want to attend the court case, you are required to be present at least 30 minutes before the start of the session and should be able to present a valid ID card.