The Dutch Public Prosecutor announced that two men from the Dutch city of Arnhem presumably traveling to the battle zones of Syria of Iraq were captured in Turkey. The pair had gone missing for an extended period of time.
They belong to a group that is being surveilled on account of their supposed radicalization. Nothing was made known about their identity. In the interest of the investigation the Public Prosecutor has announced it will not elaborate on the exact place or circumstances of the arrest. From the city of Arnhem a considerable number of people have already set out for travel.
One of the arrested people is Abdelkarim el A. (29) also known as Muhajiri Shaam. He was assumed to have died in August in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He appeared in the media last year with a video message from Syria in which he called upon Muslims to carry out ‘a firm and strong act’ against the Dutch government if need be because it is supporting America.
His brother Youssef el A. had to appear in front of a judge recently in the Dutch city of Rotterdam because he was supposed to have transferred money to Abdelkarim. According to the Arnhem mayor Herman Kaiser the amount of jihadis traveling from his municipality has been stable over the past months.
The Council of Moroccan Mosques of the Netherlands (RMMN) has responded with shock to the occupation of a mosque in construction in the Dutch city of Leiden. Five members of the Dutch extreme right group “Identitair Verzet” (English: Identitary Resistance, named after the French group “Géneration Identitaire”) occupied the mosque in the morning of 7 February showing banners with slogans like “In Leiden victory starts” and “Stop Islam.”
According to the council fear is growing among Dutch Muslim citizens for an increase of agressive attacks on Muslims and mosques. The RMMN has called upon the government to ante up the protection of Muslims and their institutions. In the past ten years one out of three mosques has been the target of the besmearing of blood, pig’s heads on the front portal, and even arson.
“The past months we have witnessed a horrific increase of violent and discriminatory acts against mosques and individual Muslims and Muslimas,” According to the RMMN. In January the council already wrote a pressing letter to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Dutch Vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher in a response has said about the act that it is “A malicious act to frighten people in such a way.” Additionally he stated that the Dutch government “would never allow that mosques, churches, synagogues, or any other house of worship become a target of threat, occupation, or destruction. If necessary houses of worship can count on additional protection measures.”
Members of extreme- right Group ‘Identitair Verzet’ [Identitair Resistance] were standing on the roof of de Al Hijra mosque in the city of Leiden. The activists stated that the Netherlands is at war with Salafism and its adherents. And upon this event, more actions will follow, they said. They have called upon activists in the country and Vlaanderen [province in Belgium] to resist themselves against islamization.
The Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands (RMMN) is shocked by the incident and has reminded the Dutch government they should pay attention to the protection of Muslims and their institutions – the government said they would made this an important matter after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
According to the research 87% of the by Motivaction interviewed people (18-34 years) is happy with support from Dutch Muslims for IS and they don’t want the Dutch government to prevent them. However, they also don’t believe in prosperity without democracy and don’t believe in a caliphate. But groups of jihadi’s do establish some welcoming changes in the region. Turkish youth seem to be much more positive about IS and the ‘holy war’ in Syria and Iraq than their Moroccan counterparts.
Minister of Social Affairs and Employment and vice premier, Asscher expressed his worries about the research, explaining that he already was worried about the Turkish community who according to him, does not seem to feel ‘at home’ in the Netherlands. But the next day he was somehow doubtful about the research because of its inconsistencies. How can this youth support IS-fighters, but at the same time be against a caliphate and for democracy? He questioned.
Ahmet Kaya, PhD researcher used an own inquiry among Turkish Dutch people. According to his research, 90% of the more than 1000 respondents condemn IS-violence. Kaya admits he cannot control if the respondents are part of the target group, since the inquiry was done online, but the results do correlate with the ideas he experiences around himself.
According to Kaya the research done by Motivaction should not be taken seriously. Verheggen, Motivaction-researcher disagrees and says that nuances in a research are very easy to get lost. Being against Assad, does not automatically mean that you’re supportive of a caliphate. A possible explanation for the (so-called) support of Turkish youth for IS might be the Turkish media, that is often pro-Erdogan and anti-Assad. Verheggen says this is however not completely clear and is pleased with more thorough research.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders has recently generated public controversy after posting a sticker on the door of his parliamentary office resembling a Saudi Arabian flag and reading “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.”
The government condemned the sticker, with deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher calling it ‘disgusting’ and aimed only at hurting people. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans stated that, “Insulting their religion is not the way to combat extremism but plays into extremists’ hands… the Dutch government is distancing itself from this.”
Lobby group Landelijk Beraad Marokkanen, led by former GroenLinks MP Mohammed Rabbae also issued a complaint against the sticker.
Following the attention to the sticker, Wilders established an email account to field comments, firstname.lastname@example.org. He later claimed that Gmail had blocked the account.
The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that the Netherlands was liable for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in a ruling upholding a 2011 decision in an appeals court. The three Bosnian Muslim men had been ordered to leave a UN compound run by Dutch peacekeeping forces when Bosnian Serb forces overran it. They were among thousands taking shelter in the compound. The prosecution argued that the three men should have been protected by the peacekeepers, while the Dutch government had argued that the soldiers were under United Nations’ control.
This final ruling means that relatives of the victims can now claim compensation from the Dutch state.
The plan by the ruling coalition of the Dutch government to make it a criminal offence to be an illegal immigrant is causing divisions within the ruling Labour (PvdA) party. The Labour party had agreed with the Liberal (VVD) party to criminalize illegal immigration as part of last year’s coalition agreement. At this weekend’s party congress Labour party members voted in large majority for a motion condemning the proposed legislation.
In December, RTL news reported that illegal immigrants would face a fine and eventual deportation when legislation criminalizing illegality came into effect.
Following a ruling that the compulsory attendance of integration classes for Turkish immigrants is illegal, thousands of Turkish nationals in the Netherlands may now seek compensation for the cost of the course. The government established the rules for compulsory integration course in 2006, which have now been deemed illegal under treaties between Turkey and the EU. The Dutch government has already said that those taking the course after August 16 of this year would be refunded, but not others. Lawyer Bilal Coskun has established a foundation to represent those forced to take the courses, representing them with claims for an average of 5,000 Euros per person.
The Dutch government has agreed to a ban on the burqa under a deal with Geert Wilders’ PVV Party. The Interior Minister announced that “a general ban on wearing face-restrictive clothing in public is on the way” and will be in effect in public buildings, educational institutions, hospitals and public transport. The government statement indicated that face covering is “fundamentally against the character of public discourse where we have to me each other on an equal level” and is a necessary and justified restriction on freedom of religion “to protect the character and good habits of public life in the Netherlands”. The sanction for non-compliance will be a fine.
The Dutch government has reassured Turkey that the country’s governing coalition does not share politician Geert Wilders’understanding of Islam, reinforcing the freedom for Dutch-Turks to practice their religion. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal spoke to a group of Turkish journalists to clarify the stance of his government on the issue, following discussions with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahment Davutoglu during the NATO Summit last month.