Wednesday February 25th there was a public hearing on radicalization and jihadism in the Dutch parliament. There, Paul Scheffer, specialized in integration issues, stated that according to a big minority and perhaps a majority of Dutch Muslims democracy and Islam do not fit together. Scheffer is basing himself on a research conducted by Ruud Koopmans. On the other side, ‘native’ Dutch people see no place for Islam in their democracy.
Thus a question arises: “How does one from an islamic standpoint relates to democracy and how relates democracy itself towards new religions?”
According to Scheffer authorities and educational institutions lack the promotion of freedom for everyone. “If the Muslim community states: you should be accepting towards us, I say: Yes, but are you also accepting towards the Dutch society? This is a fair question. Are you then also accepting the equality between man and woman and do you accept homosexuals in our community?”
He also thinks that part of radicalization can be explained because of inconsistence when it comes to the norms of freedom. The Netherlands is preaching freedom, but has at the same time Saudi Arabia as its ally.
Representatives from the Muslim community disagreed during the hearing on their responsibility against radicalization and jihadism in the Netherlands. According to Ibrahim Wijbenga (youth worker) the Muslim community should speak out more clearly against jihadism and radicalization. Politician Selcuk Őztürk disagrees with him. Said Idbid, board member of the Ibn Khattab mosque in the city of Almere says he is already trying for years to keep youth from radicalizing. He thinks that youth becomes radicalized because of ideological and theological convictions, but according to Latifa Bakrimi from the Hague municipality a lack of perspectives also play a role. Habib El Kaddouri from the Collaboration Dutch Moroccans says what is needed is to invest in prevention.
10 August 2011
A man arrested two weeks ago in the Dutch city of Almere, suspected of planning to join the al-Qaeda network, has been released without charge. The Iraqi national, who has a temporary refugee permit, allegedly planned to link up with the network in Syria and then carry out some form of attack in either Iraqi or Palestinian territory.
There is considerable fear among Dutch Muslims in the city of Almere regarding the potential success of the anti-Islamic Freedom Party (PVV) in upcoming national elections. The PVV, led by Geert Wilders, currently has nine of 150 seats in parliament. It is predicted to win 17 seats next week and become the country’s fourth biggest party in the process. The party topped the March 3 municipal poll in Almere, east of Amsterdam, with 21.6 per cent, and came in second in The Hague.
Muslims in Almere express anxiety about possibility of the party gaining influence after the success of the party in the local elections. “Muslim people in Almere are looking differently at their indigenous Dutch compatriots” since the PVV election success, Shangram Karim, the Dutch Muslim Party leader in the city, told AFP.
”People are thinking: ‘It is probable that my neighbour, or someone in my street, voted for the PVV and thus against me.”
Despite the party’s initial successes, however, it remains politically isolated.
Coalition governments unwilling to compromise on some of Wilders’ more controversial proposals (such as a ban on headscarves) have ignored it.
A Muslim woman from Almere is suing a local politician, Raymond de Roon, for discrimination and inciting hatred. De Roon is the local leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), a party whose aim is to ban headscarves in publicly funded institutions. It is unclear whether such a ban will occur, as no other political faction supports the PVV on this point.
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) abandoned attempts to form a majority coalition in the town of Almere after it emerged the largest party in municipal elections March 3. No other party was willing to accept the party’s controversial agenda. As a result, the Freedom Party will stand in the opposition. The party also enjoyed success in the Hague during the recent elections, and local leader Sietse Fritsma announced that it is open for “all constructive proposals” from other parties in the city to form a ruling coalition.
Divisive issues preventing a coalition include the party’s demand for urban “commando” presence on the city’s streets, a headscarf ban in public buildings, and local tax cuts.
Earlier this week Wilders faced opposition from the mayor of the German town Monschau after spending the weekend in the region. Mayor Margareta Ritter said that the politician was not welcome in the town, as she was concerned that his presence would “tainted her town with the suspicion that it was sympathetic to his views”, DPA reports
News coverage of local elections in the Netherlands focuses on the gains made by right wing Freedom (PVV) Party. Led by controversial politician Geert Wilders, who is currently on trial for inciting hatred against Muslims, the party operates on an anti-immigration platform. It made major gains in the only two cities where it ran candidates, leading the elections in Almere with 21.9 percent of the vote and coming second in the Hague. The Netherlands Muslim Party, presenting candidates in 5 cities, failed to win any seats in these local elections, though it still plans to run candidates in upcoming parliamentary elections.
The gains of the PVV have attracted particular attention in light of the national elections called for June 9 2010 to form a coalition replacing the government which fell in February 2010. Wilders predicted that his party’s success in the local elections indicated its increasing popularity throughout the country, saying “the national campaign begins today in Almere and The Hague, tomorrow in all of the Netherlands… On 9 June, we’ll conquer the Netherlands”. The PVV currently holds 9 seats in the 150 seat parliament.
News agencies present differing interpretations of the PVV’s popularity: Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that, “if voters had elected a new parliament on Wednesday, the Freedom Party would have won between 24 and 27 seats. In one poll, it would be the largest single party. If his party does that well come June, Geert Wilders could become the next prime minister.” Dutch News reports that an “opinion poll earlier in the day put the PVV in third place in the national vote. And the party’s results in Almere were well below forecasts and down on its share of the vote at the European elections last June.” International news agencies including the BBC and Al-Jazeera emphasize the rise in the PVV’s gains as an “anti-Islam” party.
Pre-election polls suggested that highly-educated Moroccan and Turkish youth would vote for D66 in the local Dutch elections, followed by PvdA (Labor) and GroenLinks (Greens), Telegraaf reportedNIS reports that immigrants provide important support for the Labour (PVdA) party noting “the PvdA remained the biggest party in Amsterdam by some way, partly due to 74 percent of Moroccans voting for the social democrats.” The Hague witnessed a protest to PVV popularity when about 100 individuals voted in headscarves as a sign of their opposition to Wilders. Dutch Muslims have reacted to the results with disbelief. After the vote, Expatica prints reactions from Muslims in Almere who are concerned about the party’s popularity. “I am afraid that it will lead to more hatred,” said 20-year-old student Sakina Buyatui, a Dutch-born resident the city, where a third of the population is of immigrant origin.
Right wing PVV (Freedom) Party leader Geert Wilders announced that a ban on headscarves for city council workers and in all institutions and clubs receiving local authority support will form the basis of negotiations during governing coalition talks in the upcoming months.
Wilders made the comments during a lengthy speech in Almere, one of the centers of support for his party. The ban will not apply to other religious items such as Christian crosses and Jewish skull caps, Wilders claims, because they are symbols of Dutch culture. Dutch News reports that the speech received a standing ovation.
Dutch right wing, anti-immigration PVV (Freedom) Party stands to gain in local elections scheduled for March 3, 2010. A recent poll from TNS/NIPO projects that the party will win the city of Almere in the local elections, one of only two cities where the party will run. This as a result of the votes of middle aged white men, many of whom did not vote in previous elections.
Attention to the elections has been heightened by the fall of the Dutch national government and subsequent elections scheduled for June 9 2010. As negotiations to form a coalition government are underway, many parties have already ruled out potential cooperation with Wilders. Only the Christian Democrat Party and the right wing Liberals (VVD ) have not yet done so.
Geert Wilders’ PVV party will stand in only two cities in next year’s local elections. Wilders, who thinks the Koran should be banned and wants a halt to immigration, said the PVV planned to focus on the national and regional elections in 2011. ‘We want to be ready to rule so we need to be in the senate,’ he told ANP.
Although Wilders had been planning to field candidates in more locations, the party will run only in Almere and the Hague. Wilders told ANP that the strategy is an attempt to avoid the fate of the late Pim Fortuyn’s anti-Islam LPF party in 2002, which the party took 26 seats in parliament but collapsed due to inexperience and infighting.
Political parties have criticized Wilders’ decision to largely ignore the local elections. Femke Halsema, leader of the leftwing Groenlinks party, told Telegraaf, “He takes part in the European election although he doesn’t believe in it and now he won’t take part in the cities where he says he wants to solve problems.” But Maurice de Hond describes Wilders’ decision as ‘very clever’ in electoral terms as making mistakes in local councils could cost the party in parliamentary elections, he tells Telegraaf.