Dutch Social Affairs Minister Comments in Support of Freedom of Religion

July 12 2013

 

Dutch Social Affairs Minister Lodewijk Asscher has commented on the right to religious freedom in the Netherlands, stating that “The increasing visibility of Islam in our society, the different traditions and views, and the association with violence and radicalization have led to part of the people seeing Islam as a threat. This is a worrying development because this threatens the cohesion and stability in society”.

 

Asscher’s comments are in response to questions from Geert Wilders regarding a recent poll showing that a majority of Dutch support stopping further immigration from Islamic countries. The poll was commissioned by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) and conducted by Maurice de Hond. Canvassing 1900 respondents on their feelings about Islam and immigration from Islamic countries, the poll suggests that 68% of respondents believe that there is “now enough” Islam in the Netherlands. Respondents also suggested that the population would support a halt in building new mosques. Asscher rejects both proposals, and notes that the cabinet is not planning to block immigrants from Islamic countries.

 

Poll results also show that attitudes towards Islam and immigration in the country are predominantly negative, though a large discrepancy exists among demographics: the elderly population is much more negative than younger voters, and those with a relatively high education much less negative than those with a low education.

 

Dutch Politician on Apparent Death List

1 March 2013

 

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders is listed in an apparent al-Qaeda death list, RTL news reports. The politician is listed fourth on a pastiche poster published online. A spokesman for the Dutch counter terrorism bureau noted that circulation of death lists is a popular al Qaeda tactic. Other names listed included Danish newspaper editor Carsten Juste and Dutch public figure Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Dutch Politician Cancels Speech in Australia

19 February 2013

 

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Islam platform, has cancelled a speech planned during his visit to Australia. Wilders’ speech was cancelled when no venue in Perth was willing to host the event. During a press conference Wilders reiterated his view that Islam cannot be integrated into western societies. Although some 40 people appeared to protest Wilders’ speech in Melbourne last week, none were present at the press conference. Muslim and other organizations had encouraged individuals not to protest the event but rather to ignore Wilders’ presence.

Doug Saunders, “The Myth of the Muslim Tide”

Myth of the muslim tideIn his book “The Myth of the Muslim Tide”, Doug Saunders puts theories from critics of immigration under the microscope. He talked to Aygül Cizmecioglu about extremism, xenophobia and successful integration

Mr. Saunders, prominent public figures such as Thilo Sarrazin in Germany and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands believe that the West is being overrun with Muslims – at least demographically. Is that true?

Doug Saunders: No, I think the facts clearly contradict that. I’ve spent a lot of time in the largest Muslim countries, in Iran, in Bangladesh, in Pakistan, doing various forms of journalism and research into migration and urbanization. And I hired a research team, people who are not partisans and weren’t activists, but who are good scholars, who know demographics, who know radicalism, who know the history of integration. And first of all, what we found out was that these countries have the fastest falling reproduction rates in the world. Bangladesh now has a population growth rate falling very quickly toward a European level. The situation in Turkey is very similar.

Moreover, in Europe and North America, Muslims are not the largest group of immigrants at all. And what we’re seeing is the pattern that poor religious minorities always – after some time – follow the trend of the majority society. The second generation of immigrants has considerably fewer children than the first generation, and by the third generation they have almost completely adapted to their environment, in terms of the birth rate.

Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the image of violent Muslims with extremist tendencies is ingrained in many people’s psyches…

Saunders: I didn’t use any data that was supported by only one organization. I’m talking about universities, government bodies, United Nations bodies, intelligence agencies. And the big surveys of extremism done by the CIA and MI5 were extremely useful for this book. Those surveys found that almost all Islamic extremists and terrorists do not come from tightly clustered immigrant neighbourhoods. Extremists don’t usually come from communities of strong belief.

First of all, the most religious groups of people do not produce extremism and terrorism. And second of all, if you survey all people who have become extremists and terrorists, religious faith is almost never a big cause. They use the language of religion as part of their extremism.

The New York police department just wasted something like six years investigating tens of thousands of ordinary Muslims in New York who had strong Islamic believes in the hope of finding some evidence of terrorism. And they had to admit that they had not found after this enormous spying program one piece of useful evidence for extremism.

But where do these fears come from?

Saunders: I passed through that set of views myself. I had deep fears, certainly when extremism and terrorism hit my own neighbourhood – when my local mosque was taken over by one of the most extreme al Qaida supporters around, when one of my neighbours had both of her legs blown off in the July 7, 2005 London transport bombings. Of course I wondered, of course I thought, is the western liberal world threatened by Islam?

What factors make it difficult for us to overcome these prejudices?

Saunders: I would not say that Muslims are an average. Now, you’re talking about very different people. There’s no generalizing about Muslims. You’re talking about extremely moderate practices like Alevi next to very ascetic, and rigid practices like Wahhabis and Salafists. And we can also show that immigrants from the same place of different religions have the same problems and difficulties. So religion is not a major causal factor.

Are areas populated mainly by Arabs or Turks, such as those in Berlin, parallel societies?

Saunders: Most of the successful immigrant groups in western history who have become very well integrated into the society around them have been clustered into ethically concentrated neighbourhoods. For instance, the Lower East Side of New York has seen about five different ethnic groups pass through it: eastern-European Jews, Irish, southern-European Catholics, Latin Americans, Greeks. All of whom have passed through and formed these densely clustered neighbourhoods, and their neighbourhoods were widely seen as being criminal.

 

Anti-Islam Politician to Step Up International Campaign

27 December 2013

 

In an interview with NOS television anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders announced that he will step up his campaign on an international level in 2013. The PVV leader claims he will “fight” Islam “from Australia to America, from Switzerland to wherever.”

 

Update: Dutch MP to Receive Australian Visa

2 October 2012

 

Following speculation that anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders would not be permitted to visit Australia, immigration minister Chris Bouwen has announced that a visa will be issued. Bouwen told ABC radio that the visa procedure had taken an extended time period because “we had to find a balance between our freedom of expression and his rather extreme views.”

Wilders to Speak in Australia, Visa Pending

20 September 2012

 

An anti-Islam group in Australia has invited Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak next month, however authorities have not yet approved his visa application. The Q Society is suggesting that Australia is attempting to prevent Wilders from speaking in the country, while Australian immigration minister Chris Bouwen defends the time taken to process the application. While one member of the Australian Green Party is quoted as saying Wilders is not welcome in the country, he adds that denying the politician a visa would simply bring more attention to Wilders.

Wilders’ Supporters Do Not Agree With Anti-Islam Stance

17 August 2012

 

New research by Chris Aalberts of Erasmus University in Rotterdam shows that the majority of Dutch residents supporting Geert Wilders and his PVV party are not in agreement with the politiican’s anti-Islam stance. According to Aalbert’s research, conducted through in depth interviews with supporters, only a small minority of supporters see Islam as a serious threat; rather, Wilders draws support from those “concerned about the more humdrum irritations of daily life” who identify anti-Islam rhetoric as a way of bringing their issues to the table, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports. Aalbert’s research and the media coverage comes with the commencement of national campaigns for a September parliamentary election.

Dutch Politician’s New Book Draws Criticism

3 May 2012

 

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV (Freedom Party) will be officially released in the United States this week. The autobiographical Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me has drawn criticism from Muslims. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has released a statement on their website stating that “the new book is nothing but a repetition of Mr. Wilders campaign of hate mongering against Islam…”. Wilders is currently touring the United States to promote the book.

Advance Reviews of Dutch Politician Geert Wilders’ New Book

21 April 2012

 

The new book by right wing politician Geert Wilders, Marked for Death, Islam’s War Against the West and Me, though not yet officially released, has started receiving reviews from journalists who have seen advanced copies. The book claims to tell Wilders’ story of his “fight for the right to speak what he believes; namely that Islam is not just a religion but primarily a dangerous ideology which is a threat to Western freedoms”. A review from Vrij Nederland notes that there is little personal content from Wilders in the book, while magazine HP/De Tijd recaps Wilders’ account of being robbed by “three Arab youths”.  In the book Wilders does not mention prime minister Mark Rutte but repeatedly draws connections to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and emphasizes his admiration for former US president Ronal Regan.

The reviews come as Wilders makes headlines for political upheaval in the country, as the politician withdrew key support for the ruling minority government this week, prompting prime minister Rutte to resign and the installation of a caretaker minority government.