Surprising exposition about the Islamic culture in five cities

December 2003 -

The exposition Urban Islam can be seen in the KIT Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam starting on December 12 th . With film, photographs, objects and personal stories, this anthropological museum presents a picture of the Islam in five of the world's largest cities: Dakar, Marrakech, Paramaribo, Istanbul and Amsterdam.

With this exposition the Tropenmuseum is striving to show a side of the Islam other than the one that has dominated the media since September 11th. What does the Islam actually mean in daily life? And how much do we know about the diversity of the profession of faith within the Islamic world?


Babacar Lô: "Cheikh Amadou Bamba en de zee", Collection KIT Tropenmuseum

In the hall of the museum rises a large, lighted tower that explains the history of the principles of the Islamic faith. Five areas around the tower represent the five cities.

The area 'Amsterdam' has a clearly political premise. On a screen a number of Dutch Muslims voice assertions regarding current issues. The public is given the opportunity to respond and to vote.

What the day-to-day life of a Muslim is like in the other cities is explained by young inhabitants filmed in each of the cities. Each of the four experience the Islam in their own personal way.

Hananan, for example, says that the Islam in Morocco is strongly traditional, but that the modern Islam also reaches the country via the Internet, satellite and glossies. Ferhat explains the division of church and state in Turkey.

One of the people responsible for the exposition explains: 'We can show a lot, because we had more than enough time for research. Thus the visitors can learn much more that they would otherwise have missed. I am certain that the Dutch do not know that many people in Morocco believe that they have a high level of individual freedom.'