In the Netherlands and elsewhere, it has become a default expectation in recent years that certain communities, and Muslims in particular, apologize for and formally distance themselves from matters that occur in other parts of the world – especially acts of terrorism.
The consequence is that certain groups and individuals are constantly associated with terrible evens they have nothing to do with. This mechanism – also known as “guilt by association” or the imposition of “collective guilt” – has become normalized. Rather than bringing people together, it causes segregation.
The idea was sparked to use a short educational film that reveals how children handle these kinds of accusations, prejudices and suspicions. What happens is that their self-esteem, self-image and confidence is damaged. You see, for example, how rapidly a young boy who wants to become a superhero can be talked into seeing himself as a villain.
Filmmaker Abdelkarim El-Fassi, who produced the video, explains: “I’ve never felt this uncomfortable while directing a video. Sure, it’s totally unethical and pedagogically irresponsible, and yet as a society we’ve practiced this on the macro-level for years. We’ve been talking certain communities into feelings of collective guilt for years.
“This has to stop, otherwise the problem will fester on for generations to come. I don’t want my nephew Hamza, who can be seen in the film, to be held accountable for matters that have nothing to do with him. He is a third generation Dutch-Moroccan. There is no justification whatsoever for him being treated differently from his white peers.”
El-Fassi previously founded the #doyoucare campaign, for which eight Dutch children crawled into the skins of their murdered Palestinian peers to draw attention for the injustices that were happening in Gaza.
Directed and written by: Abdelkarim El-Fassi
Camera: Wouter Boes
Edit: Sjoerd Schipper
Production: Asma El-Fassi, Stryder, Rabia Amezian, Hicham Issaouti, Nourdin El Ouali, Smahane Arghidi, Rahma Bavelaar, Malika Mouhdi and many others.
Special thanks to the kids: Hamza, Lea, Yonas, Jaylisa, Sami, Wael, Aschraf.
Photographs (background): Sanne van der Most