Oppressive Neutrality?

An examination of the current secular humanitarian discourse and its effect on religion, religious minorities, and policy practice in the Netherlands


  • David A. van der Maas


secularism, humanitarianism, religion, religious minorities, Dutch refugee centers, refugee policy, FoRB


The steep increase in sectarian violence in Western European refugee centers caused uproar throughout the continent. European citizens wondered how this could happen in their backyard. Even though policy changes have been implemented to counter this threat, problems persist. The dominant secular discourse on humanitarianism seeks to address these challenges through a materialist approach. An analysis of the current discourse and its effect on humanitarian policy practice both internationally and at the national level reveals its limitations, suggesting that a reassessment of religion within humanitarianism is of paramount importance.

Author Biography

David A. van der Maas

David A. van der Maas currently works on environmental and sustainability challenges and serving as a works council member for a leading international coffee brand. He attended the 33rd UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on behalf of the World Evangelical Alliance. His academic research focused on the refugee questions triggered by the Arab Spring and its consequences for religious minority refugees.