When a well-educated Amsterdam Moroccan discovers the Jihad

The headline above this article is the story of the movie The Way to Paradise. A made-up story, but in reality it is regularly discussed. This ‘dark’ film from the depths of Amsterdam (but ultimately in the heart of the city…) will be shown in cinemas from tomorrow.

The Way to Paradise revolves around Najib, an Amsterdam Moroccan from the West district who has his life in order. Master’s degree in Law, a nice Dutch girlfriend: that’s how it should always be, you could say. But in the end it’s not like that. Everything changes when his older brother is arrested. Now Najib has to take care of his family and is forced to drop out of his studies to earn money. In his efforts, Najib repeatedly encounters closed doors and prejudices. Little by little his life collapses, especially because his brother was not dealing with the freshest of figures. On the verge of despair, he is approached by Brahim who offers him help. However, Brahim’s real goal turns out to be something else: to convince Najib that he should become a jihadist. And that by fighting for Islam will find the way to paradise.

Jihad in your own neighborhood

It was for this one Subwayswitch reporter. Quite a few scene locations pass by that are very close to my house and that I know. But yes, Amsterdam West. It is logical that director Wahid Sanouji has actually chosen to shoot for the place where it is all about in his film. And ‘only’ number two: nice that one Movie Review of the Week takes place in their own neighborhood and beyond.

Anyone who saw the trailer already heard a good question when Najib and Brahim peer over Amsterdam: “Do you know why an attack has never been committed here?” “Because we as Muslims love the Netherlands.” And then: “But does the Netherlands love us?”

The Way to Paradiso Moroccan Islam Jihad
Aziz Akazim and Titia Hoogendoorn. Photo: Dutch Film Works

Fucking pig in The Way to Paradise

Najib’s father telling a friend ‘to ask his wife and children to bury him in Morocco’. The friend who wonders what their real country is. Najib’s mother who, when her son is arrested – while the whole neighborhood is watching – thinks the family disgrace in the street is almost more important than the fact that her child is in jail. A female Dutch detective who calls that child ‘a fucking pig, a species she hates’ during interrogations. Dutch employers who never hire Najib in his job search, simply because he is… Moroccan. With a good brain, that is. If you do have the job, then you are not allowed to pray during the break from that jerk of a fishmonger (“Is there a mosque above the door here?”). And then his girlfriend’s father. You already understand: Najib is anything but welcome in the family.

All things that you don’t like to look at and sometimes embarrassing. The Moroccan characters in The Way to Paradise, believe that they behave in a tolerant way in the Netherlands. Conversely, ‘we are that country that continues to see them as shitty Moroccans’. And then that Jihad will attract, which is spreading rapidly across the internet. With the main message: “Faith is our only weapon.”

The Way to Paradise Jihad
Fixed film location: the Sloterplas. Photo: Dutch Film Works

Role Geert Wilders in Jihad film

PVV member Geert Wilders also has a role in it The Way to Paradise. No, the politician didn’t have to play that one. He had already done that with his question ‘more or less Moroccans’. Everything said above can ‘just’ make sure that an Amsterdam Moroccan qualifies for Jihad. With that, we are not saying here that it is logical if someone radicalises. It does happen though, like with Najib. Aziz Akazim, whom Videoland viewers probably know from Macro Mafiaportrays his character excellently.

At least in a way where you can actually follow his Jihad thoughts. To some extent then. How he and his ‘mate’ think to start the road to Paradise in the heart of Amsterdam, that step is (fortunately) miles away for most people.

Rating out 5: 3

SubwayYou can read the film review of the week every Wednesday around 6 p.m. New titles always appear in Dutch cinemas on Thursdays, such as The Way to Paradise (sometimes also on Wednesdays). Reporter Erik Jonk chooses one every week. Next week She Said about the two journalists of the New York Times who together published one of the most important stories of a generation: the story of sexual abuse in Hollywood.

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