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IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Vol. 11    Issue 09   16-30 September 2016

Rising Islamophobic Hysteria in the Netherlands

Minaret Research Network

Racist and xenophobic sentiments have been deeply entrenched in the cultural consciousness of European societies for centuries. In the past couple of decades, racist ideologies, movements and sentiments have been reinforced and intensified by the writings of some extremist writers, intellectuals and journalists and the rise of far-right, anti-immigration political parties. Certain incidents, such as the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the 2004 Madrid train bombing and the 2005 terrorist attacks on London’s public transport system, have exacerbated racial and religious hatred in Europe. The terrorist attacks in Belgium, France and Germany in recent months have further escalated anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiments.

The unprecedented influx of over a million refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries into Europe in 2015 and 2016 has deepened fissures and cleavages in European societies and has contributed to the rising popularity of far-right, anti-immigration and neo-Nazi parties in several European countries. Thus France’s National Front, Germany’s Alternative for Germany, Golden Dawn in Greece, Freedom Party in Austria, Freedom Party in the Netherlands, Sweden Democrats and Jobbik in Hungary have become increasingly popular with the electorate.

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the Netherlands’ far-right and anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), posted a manifesto online on 25 August 2016. The manifesto, released ahead of the parliamentary elections in March 2017, calls for banning the Quran in the Netherlands, closing down all mosques and Islamic schools, banning the headscarf in public, shutting down the borders, with a total ban on migrants from Muslim countries and shutting asylum centres. The manifesto also promises to hold a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership of the European Union if PVV comes to power in the next elections. The manifesto sets out the political programme of PVV, which has a lead in every opinion poll.

There is nothing surprising in Wilders’ manifesto. Over the past few years, he has doggedly carried out a vicious campaign of vilification and slander against Islam, the Quran and Muslims. He has often dubbed the Quran as a “fascist book” and compared it to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He said a few years ago that if Muslims wish to stay on in the Netherlands they should tear up half of their holy book. He has argued that the Quran is “an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror” and that the “Islamic ideology has as its utmost goal the destruction of what is most dear to us – our freedom.”

Wilders has often lashed out at what he calls the “Islamisation of the Netherlands.” He released a highly controversial anti-Islam film called “Fitna” in 2008, which showed certain verses of the Quran, interspersed with newspaper and video clips that highlighted acts of violence and terrorism carried out by Muslims. The film also showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (reproduced from a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten) wearing a bomb-shaped turban along with footage of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the 2004 Madrid train bombings and the terrorist attacks on London’s public transport system in 2005. The film aims to highlight the message that Islam encourages acts of violence and terrorism, anti-Semitism and violence against women.

All mainstream television channels in the Netherlands refused to air the film. The film was released on a video-sharing website Liveleak in Dutch and English versions. However, the website soon removed the film from its servers, citing serious to its staff. The film can be seen on Wikileaks, Wikipedia’s sister channel.

In January 2010 Wilders was invited to show the film “Fitna” in the British House of Lords. Following the screening of the film, Wilders said at a press conference that the Prophet of Islam was “a barbarian, a mass murderer and a paedophile” and referred to Islam as a “Fascist ideology” which was “violent, dangerous and retarded.”

Wilders has repeatedly attacked and demonised Muslim immigrants and refugees in the Netherlands, including those born and raised in the country. While delivering a fiery speech in March 2014, he asked a crowd of supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. The crowd chanted, “Fewer, fewer!” A highly elated and smiling Wilders responded, “We’ll take care of that.” In a television broadcast Wilders referred to Moroccans as “scum.”

Wilders called for male refugees to be “locked up in asylum centres” as Dutch women needed to be protected from “testosterone bombs” waging “sexual jihad.” He made the comments in a party video in the wake of sexual assaults on women by refugees on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany. On 18 March 2016 Wilders was put on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination against Moroccans living in the Netherlands.

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