This article, which is part of a larger ongoing project, examines relationships, friendships and levels of belonging in Dutch society, as well as in the Dutch Muslim community in narratives of women converted to Islam. The ethnicity of these women is always visible as ‘native Dutch’ and shapes their conversion narratives. This ethnography raises a number of questions that form the basis for the analysis presented here: How do Dutch Muslim women shape their identity in a way that is both Dutch and Muslim? Do they incorporate Dutch parameters into their Muslim identity, while at the same time weaving Islamic principles into their Dutch sense of self? The findings show how the conversion narrative can be mobilized by Dutch Muslim women to serve identity formation, levels of belonging and personal (religious) choice in the Netherlands, where Islam is largely considered by the non-Muslim population to be a religion that is oppressive and discriminatory towards women and is associated with foreignness and being the Other. It is argued that, in the context of being Dutch and Muslim, these women express their freedom of choice, which is manifested through friendships, relationships and marriages (Islamic vs. civil), while their ethnicity and conversion experience is a visible component in their identity. In so doing, these women push the limits of the archetypal Dutch identity and are able to criticize Dutch society while simultaneously stretching the meaning of Islam and being critical of Dutch Muslim communities to craft their own hybrid identity.
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