Al-Azhar, one of the most prominent sunni Islamic institutes of higher learning, has condemned a broadcast on Dutch television that showed cartoons about the Islamic prophet Muhammed. According to the institute located in Egypt the caricatures conceal a “sick fantasy”.
The video was produced by the anti-Islam political party PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) of Geert Wilders and was showed during the Dutch Broadcasting Time for Political Parties. In a declaration Al-Azhar calls upon Muslims to “ignore this act of terror.” “The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanity is too high and honorable to be damaged by drawings that do not respect moral or decent norms.”
The PVV leader Geert Wilders preceded the video with the words: “The best way to show terrorists that they will never win is by doing that which they are trying to prevent us to do. The cartoons were not shown to provoke but to show that we defend freedom of speech and will never bow to violence. Freedom of speech should always win vis-a-vis violence and terror.”
The Dutch Vice Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher has recently defended Muslims in the Netherlands on the party congress of his Labour Party (Partij van de arbeid). In the same meeting he lashed out against the Dutch Islamic critic and anti-Islamic Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid) leader Geert Wilders.
Asscher stated that the justified anger about the attacks [in France, ed.] should be directed at the perpetrators, the accomplices, the recruiters, and those who have inspired terrorism. But the same anger should not be quenched by directing it at the cashier at the Albert Heijn [a widespread Dutch super market, ed.], the neighbor, or the mosque around the corner, Asscher said. “They [the Muslims, ed.] deserve our support.”
Additionally Asscher said that he admires Wilders because he continues to voice his opinions despite ongoing threats to his person. But Asscher also “rejects and despises” Wilders’ views and will do anything to combat them in the public debate.
“Wilders doesn’t see people, he only sees suspects,” Asscher said. “He poures out Quranic texts but repudiates the Dutch constitution. The PVV [Freedom Party, ed.] does not deserve its self chosen name. Let us be the party of freedom. Of elevation and emancipation. Of enlightenment and bonding.” Asscher stated on the Labour Party congres.
Dutch newspaper Trouw has fired one of its employees for using non-existing sources when writing articles. The name of this journalist has yet to be confirmed, but other media write it’s Perdiep Ramesar.
One of his articles that caused a lot of commotion dates from May 18 2013: ‘If your neighbourhood changes into a caliphate.’ He wrote about a part of the Schilderswijk with a so-called enclave of orthodox Muslims, where smoking, alcohol and short skirts were said to be prohibited.
The article caused a lot of commotion and some politicians decided themselves to take a look in this neighbourhood. Geert Wilders, from the rightwing party Party for the Freedom (PVV) said he didn’t feel like he was in the Netherlands, while walking there.
There were however also some doubts about the article among Muslims themselves. The article played a great role in the (already) negative image of the neighbourhood, and also its stigmatization, as complained by Adri Duivesteijn, former councillor in the Schilderswijk.
Minister of Social Affairs and Safety Asscher also visited the neighbourhood and said he didnt’t recognize himself in what the article wrote.
Conflict broke out in Schilderswijk, a neighbourhood of the Hague, on the weekend of August 10. The “Pro-Patria” (For the Fatherland) group held a march against ISIS, an extreme Islamic group with a presence in the city. During the march, 150-200 Muslim youth threw stones and shouted at the protestors, and police intervened.
The city’s mayor, Jozias van Aartsen, faced criticism for permitting the demonstration against ISIS as well as for failing to be available during the conflict on August 10. He has since returned from vacation to deal with the events, and has placed a ban on demonstrations in the neighbourhood for a period of three months.
Following the confrontation, Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), has called on “everyone” to participate in an anti-Islam demonstration to be held in September.
Although media in Saudi Arabia reported last month that the country would instigate a trade boycott against the Netherlands, a definite answer from the country has not yet been obtained.
The potential boycott pertained to the anti-Islam sticker Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders posted on his office door.
Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans said that a senior civil servant’s visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of May had failed to produce clarity: “Neither during the visit nor in the weeks afterwards has any confirmation been sent that the Saudi government intends to take measures.”
Dutch politician Geert Wilders continues to appear in news media regarding the anti-Islam sticker posted on his office door in December 2013. The Volkskrant reports that Wilders has distributed the sticker through the mail in parliamentary envelopes.
The Netherlands will send a top diplomat to Saudi Arabia to prevent the country from imposing trade sanctions in protest of the sticker. The Saudi authorities have not announced any sanctions, but Saudi media reports this week announced that such measures had already taken effect, citing unnamed officials.
The sticker is printed in the colors of the Saudi Arabian flag and bears the words, “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.”
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is to visit Saudi Arabia, following news that the country plans to take steps against the Netherlands such as excluding Dutch companies from participating in local projects and changing visa requirements. The economic sanctions are responses to the anti-Islam sticker parliamentarian Geert Wilders posted on his office door in December 2013, reading, “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.” The sticker is a deliberate reference to the Saudi Arabian flag.
The Dutch government immediately condemned the action. Timmermans said at the time this sort of action is counterproductive. ‘Insulting their religion is not the way to combat extremism but plays into extremists’ hands,’ he said. ‘The Dutch government is distancing itself from this.’
Geert Wilders’ personal policy advisor and member of Zuid Holland provincial council has left the Freedom Party (PVV). Stephan Jansen, who has been active for the party since 2006, says in a letter to party workers that his departure is due to the anti-Moroccan statements made by Wilders during and after the local election campaign.
‘The recent statements about Moroccans made by our political leader, Mr. Wilders, have ensured our party will never be taken seriously again,’ Jansen writes. ‘No other political party will work with us.’
Two MPs, one MEP and a handful of provincial councilors have quit since Geert Wilders led supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant after the local elections. At the same time, a poll conducted for the party indicated that 43% of the 2,500 respondents “would rather there were fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.”
With reference to a 2011 case in which a Dutch court found politician Geert Wilders not guilty of inciting hatred against Muslims, lawyer Gerard Sprong has asked the court for a reconsideration. The ruling of the earlier case, which developed as a response to Wilders’ anti-Islam statements and the release of his online movie Fitna, will not be affected and there is no question of Wilders receiving punishment. Rather, Sprong is requesting a clear ruling on whether Wilders was guilty of discrimination and inciting hatred with an eye to similar future cases, he told TV programme Pauw & Witteman.
In a recent interview with the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the right-wing party Front Nationale (FN), expressed her wish to collaborate with the Dutch right-wing party, Freedom Party (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, for the upcoming European election campaign. Le Pen intents to shows right-wing voters in Europe that xenophobic and racist national movements, which she terms as ‘patriotic’, aren’t isolated but exist in every EU member state. Both parties are infamous for their anti-immigrant, islamophobic and pro-white Christian rhetoric.
Despite the many similarities, however, the leader of the FN acknowledges differences with Wilders in regards to the subject of Muslims and Islam. In her view, she has “nothing against the religion itself”, but is predominantly concerned and against the “influ of Muslim immigrants and the visibility of Islam in society”. Wilders, the author of the controversial Islam critical film “Fitna”, on the other hand is all together against the prohibition of the Quran which he compares to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.