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Saniye Çelik on Dutch NOS Radio 1 News: Acknowledging racism and discrimination is the first step to a solution

Not only the United States but also the Netherlands are faced with 'systemic problems' to do with racism and discrimination, according to Dutch Prime Minister Rutte during a press conference held on 3 June. The Prime Minister responded to the events taking place in the United States after the death of a black man at the hands of a white police agent. Is there much reason for concern in the Netherlands? Is the police treating people with a different background differently from those who do have their roots here? Saniye Çelik, CPL educator (Centre for Professional Learning), discussed the matter on the NOS Radio 1 News.

The death of the American George Floyd as a result of police violence has caused problems that are deeply rooted in the United States to come to the surface. Across the country, Americans are organising mass protests against police violence and discrimination. In the Netherlands, people have also taken to the streets in large numbers. Prime Minister Rutte said that our country is also faced with 'systemic problems'. Just how bad is the situation here exactly?

Saniye Çelik,  Educator at the Centre for Professional Learning at Leiden University, and former police woman, concludes that police members often have to decide whether to use force or not under difficult circumstances. 'If, when making that choice, a persons background plays a role, then that's problematic. She is very clear about it: 'Ethnic profiling definitely also occurs in the Netherlands; it takes place in people's minds. And it happens implicitly and subtly.'  Which is why, according to her, it is very difficult to prove.

Çelik believes that the Prime Minister was right to address the issue of racism and discrimination in the Netherlands. 'It's an acknowledgement of a persistent problem that also manifests itself within Dutch society. Such an acknowledgement is the first step to the solution. The question is: what are we planning to do about this problem in the Netherlands?' As a possible solution, she suggests: creating more diversity at the higher levels within the police force. 'As a result of a lot of investments in recent decades, the diversity within the police has increased significantly and the force is now a better representation of society.' But this is mainly the case on an operational level and that is not enough. 'Diversification at the top is sorely needed, if we want to overcome discrimination and racism and the tensions come with diversity. This does not apply to the police, but to all organisations, public or not.'

You can listen to the entire segment (in Dutch) on the website of NOS Radio1 News from minute 46 until 51 of the 07:00 - 08:00 broadcast. 

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