Adel, his wife and five young children live above his car repair shop on a busy thoroughfare between Cairo and the Nile delta. On a recent Friday, with no school, the children were bored. They hung around the shop because playing outside was not an option, with the traffic out front and a railway out the back. Until a year ago Adel and his family lived in the Osdorp neighbourhood of Amsterdam.
"I miss Holland," said 12-year-old Samira, the eldest daughter. In Amsterdam she attended As-Seddieq, an Islamic school that has been at odds with the education inspectors for years. In Egypt she goes to a public school where classes are in Arabic, a language she barely speaks. "It will come with time," said Adel.
Adel too would rather have stayed in the Netherlands. "Everything is taken care of there." But he lost the lease on his shawarma restaurant, and he felt hounded by the child protection services. "In the Netherlands you are not allowed to raise your children the way you should."
Quality of education
Last year as many as three hundred Egyptian-Dutch children were moved from Amsterdam to Egypt by their parents. (There are no national statistics.) This is twice as many as Moroccan-Dutch children moving back to Morocco. The numbers have alarmed deputy education minister Sharon Dijkstra who asked the education inspectorate to investigate them. Dijkstra called the trend 'undesirable', because it is an obstacle to integration if the children return to the Netherlands later in life.