Viewing discrimination from
another perspective

Muhammad Ozgen moved to the Netherlands when he was 18 years old, and he then started his journey in the Netherlands. There are experiences that made him think that he is a victim of discrimination.  But over the years, he came to think that it may be just a matter of perspective.

Just after Muhammad finished his high school in Turkey, he wanted to pursue his studies in the Netherlands to learn engineering at TU Delft. It was easy for him to get the visa to study here because he has family members living in the Netherlands, and finally he managed to finish his Mechanical Engineering study in the TU Delft in 1999. Then he started working at Heerema, a marine contractors company.

Being Turkish, Muhammad was actively involved in Turkish society in the Netherlands. But he also wanted to be a member of Dutch society. According to NOS, 40% of Turkish and Moroccan-Dutch citizens feel discontented, as they are often victims of discrimination. But that’s not the case for Muhammad, as he feels that he is somewhat a part of Dutch society. With his wife, Muhammad has a family with 3 children, who he feels are more integrated into Dutch society — since they were born in the Netherlands and experience Dutch culture more than Muhammad and his wife did. But there are times that Muhammad recalls unpleasant memories from his days in the Netherlands.

One time, Muhammad was driving and he wanted to stop for a bit, so he parked his car on the side of the road. It was not long before a policeman came to him and gave him a ticket for that. Muhammad expected that the police would be more flexible, but he still got a ticket. At the time, he thought the situation would have been different if someone else had parked the car, which led him to feel he had been the victim of discrimination. Years later, he looked back on that experience with a changed perspective. He now thinks that the incident may have happened because the policeman just wanted to show his authority.

Discrimination is not always present in every incident. Some might involve discrimination, but some might be due to something else — which, as Muhammad says, can be understood by taking another perspective.

There is another experience, however, that has left some memory for Muhammad. His wife is a physician, a general practitioner (GP) in The Hague, where she took over someone’s practice center. Right after his wife took over the practice, something happened. About 150 patients and 50 families unregistered themselves from the GP practice. When confronted, some people said that they just simply moved away from their previous address, and some people said that they found a better GP in the neighbourhood. But there were couple of them who said that they left this GP because of his wife’s Turkish background. They felt victims of discrimination. But after some time, more people are coming to register in her practice, and the number just keeps growing. Now she has more than 3000 patients, and she helps them together with one of her colleagues.

Muhammad did not let discrimination take over his life, and people can learn from him. We can always see things from another perspective. Every situation has two sides, and it is up to us whether we want to see things only from one perspective, or try to see it from another point of view. That could mean seeing things from another’s perspective, or simply changing our own.


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