A poll in newspaper the Volkskrant suggests 50% of Dutch back the forced integration of foreigners into Dutch society, while 19% support a multicultural approach. Further, while 31% say they are “negative” about Muslims and 52% “neutral”, this figure has been stable for years. The poll was conducted in the run up to national elections on June 9, 2010, and suggests that integration takes a backseat to other issues such as health care, social security and the economy. Integration is only a major issue for the anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV).
A court in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday that Geert Wilders’ trial on hate crime charges will proceed as scheduled on January 20.
Earlier this week, the public prosecution service announced the expansion of charges against Wilders. Initially charged for religious insult and anti-Muslim hatred evidenced in his online movie Fitna and his public statements, Wilders now faces additional charges of inciting hatred against Muslims, Moroccans, and non-Western immigrants following his claim that Moroccan youths are violent and calling for Holland’s borders to be closed to all non-western immigrants, Volkskrant reported.
Following the expansion of charges, Wilders and his lawyer Bram Moskowicz attempted to appeal the court date. On Wednesday the court ruled Wilders’ appeal inadmissible, saying the defense had not produced any new facts or evidence.
According to AFP, Wilders faces up to one year in jail if convicted.
The Hague city council has filed charges in 49 cases of alleged physically punishment of children during Koran lessons, Volkskrant reports. Investigations were launched after sources from within the Moroccan community told officials that children have been beaten, and routine health checks for 10 year olds revealed bruising among the students. The Hague’s city government has handed the 49 dossiers documenting abuse to the police and the state prosecutor.
Geert Wilders’ PVV party is an ‘extreme right-wing’ grouping and a threat to social cohesion and democracy, according to a report leaked by Volkskrant. The report, which has yet to be finalized, was created by three academics for the home affairs ministry and looks at polarization and radicalism in the Netherlands.
Ministers and the researchers are still discussing the final changes. Volksrkant notes that as it now stands, the report describes the PVV as an “extreme right-wing party which is mobilizing anti-Islam sentiment and hatred of governmental system”.
Media coverage around the leak has tracked responses to the report throughout the week. Wilders responded furiously to the report, calling Integration minister Eberhard van der Laan and D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, who had publicly responded to the report, “accomplices” of Mohammad B., Theo van Gogh’s murderer.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted in the aftermath of the report found 50 percent of the Dutch think the PVV is on the extreme right of the political spectrum and 66 percent think Wilders is stimulating a fear of Islam. A further 46 percent think Wilders is encouraging a hatred of the government.
A protest demonstration against party leader Geert Wilders was held Monday evening in the city of Arnhem. 200 protestors marched peacefully while the PVV met behind closed doors.
News coverage of Tariq Ramadan’s dismissal from the Rotterdam city council and Erasmus University continues this week, DutchNews reports from NRC and Volkskrant. Erasmus University in officials are angry with the decision. “’It is a politicial [sic] decision and we are shocked about it,’ economics professor Arjo Klamer said. Professors can only be sacked if they are suspected of commiting a crime, fail to turn up to do their job or damage the university’s reputation, he said.”
University faculty members and employees have released an open letter protesting the dismissal on the grounds that it threatens academic freedom. Ramadan was dismissed by Erasmus and from his advisory job at the city council last week because of his involvement with an Iranian television show.
The Volkskrant reports that government ministers will discuss a request by Geert Wilders’ PVV party to calculate exactly how much non-western immigrants cost Dutch society. Ministers must decide how far they will go in their reply on this ‘sensitive issue’, which some political parties had hoped to ignore. Integration minister Eberhard van der Laan has asked the government’s social policy unit, the SCP, to help ministers make the calculations.
The rise in support for anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders means many Dutch Muslims are considering emigrating, according to a poll for NCRV tv. While 75% of Dutch Muslims said they still feel at home in the Netherlands, 57% say they feel less welcome, the poll shows, according to the Telegraaf. And 51% are thinking more often about leaving. In addition, 75% feel they are judged more negatively since the rise of Wilders and four out of 10 say they are more often discriminated against.
Nevertheless, 18% say Wilders does make some good points, the Telegraaf says.
The Volkskrant carries an interview with Rotterdam city council executive Hamit Karakus who warns that well-educated young Muslims are increasingly asking themselves if they have a future in Holland.
‘My children don’t understand it,’ he told the paper. ‘You cannot say they do not speak Dutch, do not understand the habits and culture, and that they are not well-educated. But they still have the feeling that they are not accepted,’ he said. The rise of Wilders’ PVV party, which emerged as the biggest in Rotterdam after the European elections, means that a growing group of second and third generation immigrants do not feel welcome and a small but growing group are turning to radical Islam, he said.
The website for Geert Wilders anti-Islam film Fitna is now online, and will soon be available for viewing on his website. The website is hosted by a US company. While Wilders said he would like the film to air on broadcast television, Dutch newspaper Volkskrant reports that not a single Dutch channel is interested in cooperating with him in airing the controversial film. Herrman van Gilderen of Volkskrant said we are very hesitant to air the film in its entirety… we are very concerned about inciting hate or discrimination.
The number of MPs for the anti-immigration party PVV led by Geert Wilders would double to 18 if elections were held today, according to the latest internet poll by Maurice de Hond. The poll gives the PVV one more parliamentary seat than a week ago before Wilders’ call for a ban on the Koran was published in the Volkskrant. A Maurice de Hond poll last Thursday, a day after the letter was published, indicated that 75% of the population are against banning the Koran and 19% support the call. It also emerged at the weekend that Wilders’ letter was originally offered to NRC Handelsblad which refused to publish it because of its _offensive tone’ and lack of argumentation.