June 10th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Anti-Islam party's success worries Dutch Muslims

Opinion polls had predicted the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom would do well in Dutch elections this week - but not this well.

Led by the controversial politician Geert Wilders, the party nearly tripled its representation in parliament, from 9 seats to 24, according to exit polls.

That has Dutch Muslims worried.

"We are all concerned now. It's like we are not welcome any more," said Ibraham Spalburg, the head of SPIOR, an umbrella organization of Muslim groups around the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

Once famously tolerant, Dutch "society has changed a lot in a very dramatic way," Spalburg said. "It's like Islamophobia. It's not nice any more."

Holland is not alone in its apparent distrust of its rapidly growing Muslim population.

Switzerland voted to ban minaret construction last year, and France and Belgium are considering bans on Islamic veils such as the burqa.

"Today's election result in the Netherlands is the latest evidence of rising anti-Muslim sentiment across western Europe," Lucy James, a research fellow at the Quilliam Foundation in London, told CNN.

"Far-right parties such as Wilders' have increasingly targeted anti-Muslim votes by manipulating popular grievances - such as economic recession, unemployment and housing - and laying the blame for these problems on Muslim immigrants," she said.

"Europe is therefore less witnessing a 'clash of civilizations' than a deft manipulation of people's fears by far-right populists," she said. The Quilliam Foundation describes itself as a "counter-extremism think tank."

Negative views of Muslims have become slightly more common in France and Spain in the past half-dozen years, while British and German views are about where they were in the middle of the last decade, according to Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

British views toward Muslims are consistently less negative than those found in France, Germany and Spain, he added.

The project has not polled the Netherlands.

Spalburg understands that native Dutch people - especially older ones - may be nervous about the fast growth of the country's Muslim population. "They see minarets around them, or women with scarves, and they don't like to see them in the public space," he said.

The Netherlands has just under a million Muslims, representing 5.7 percent of the population, according to "Mapping the Global Muslim Population," an October 2009 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington.

It has relatively low levels of social hostilities related to religion, it found in a separate study, "Global Restrictions on Religion," in December.

But Wilders is fanning the flames with "propaganda," Muslim leader Spalburg says.

"Wilders is saying all the time he was wants to stop the Islamicization of Holland," Spalburg said.

Wilders - a potential kingmaker in the formation of the next Dutch government - faces criminal charges of inciting discrimination and hatred over comments he has made about Islam over the years.

They include an October 2006 interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant in which he said he wanted to stop the "tsunami of Islamization," and another in September 2007 with Radio Netherlands in which he said the Quran should be banned.

Wilders' film "Fitna," which he released online in March 2008 to international outcry, is also named in the charges against him. The film features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in order to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.

He is due to go on trial in October.

Last year he said he had "nothing against Muslims. I know the majority of Muslims in our society are law-abiding people."

"I have a problem with the Islamic ideology, the Islamic culture, because I believe that the more Islam we get in our free societies, the less freedom we will get," he added.

Spalburg disagrees.

"We don't want to be the cause of problems in society," he said. "There are always people who are more radical. We don't have everything under control, but 99 percent of people are not radical."

There is a possibility that the rise of Wilders' party will radicalize Dutch Muslims, Spalburg conceded, but he said his organization was working against it.

"We are trying to explain to Muslims, especially to young people, that they don't have to feel provoked," he said. "We have to stay calm and we have to show that we are normal people and don't want to make a problem in society, to show that Islam is a peaceful religion."

He took some comfort from the thought that Wilders still does not have widespread support.

"There are a lot of Dutch citizens even now who are very sympathetic towards us, towards Muslims," he said. "About 1.5 million people in the whole of Holland are supporting the policy of Geert Wilders," he said, out of a population of around 16 million.

"The majority are not supporting that, so there is a lot of hope," he said.

And Muslims were not leaving Holland, he added.

"We cannot go away," he said. "It is our country as well as the country of the Dutch citizens. There are people who have been here 40, 50 years. They are Dutch now."

CNN's Lianne Turner contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Politics

soundoff (386 Responses)
  1. Chiropractors in nj

    Woah this weblog is fantastic i love studying your articles. Stay up the good paintings! You already know, lots of persons are looking around for this information, you can help them greatly.

    April 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  2. Islam

    Sorry, the Muslims are in total denial, as are the Politicians. The Koran is the most evil book ever written, and the Muslims abide by it. If you can sanction Murder, Peadophillia, and the supression of women and the killing of "Infidels" in the 21st Century, carry on. I for one cannot, and the sooner this barbaric, uncivilised, 7th Century Cult is removed from the face of the Planet, the better off every human being will be.

    January 29, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  3. Islam

    Listen up Islam has themselves to blaim the fact is that you cannot deny these actons? If you are integrated it is your right to speak out!

    January 29, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  4. Trailerman

    What does Muslims provide any society?

    April 5, 2011 at 3:37 am |
  5. Be Anti Muslim you will get famous!

    I just wanted to add, that these days any Anti Muslim will get known and popular fast, which is an aim it self, but most of us (including even muslims) have no idea about Islam or ever read the Quran, or even know anything about the History, even the Alkohol what most of people like to drink is an Arabic word, the number we are using are Arabic numbers!

    Here is the CNN Article:

    To make sure short, we are only reading, buying information or selling it to each other, has anyone went and check the source? in this case the Quran or the History? what Muslims have done?

    Ok, what we have done then? we are the best and we are the most perfect, good, so who killed 4 million durring the Crusades? who killed 50 million during WW1 and WW2? who killed 70 million during the Coliseum, and who killed 6 million Jews? I won't be adding what is happing now in Iraq and those countries and who is even selling the weapons to Arfica.

    What I want to say is 2 things, there is no wonder for whom did the above actions to do even more now with Muslims (or what every group) and before we point finger and say what so ever we need to read the Book, why muslims never said that all Churches are misusing children? (even though is very popular now) because the BIBLE has nothing to do with what some (or even most) of the churches are doing – the same question – what the kouran has to do with what we may see from Muslim? have you ever spoke with a Muslim? or questioned a Muslim women if she was forced to put the head cover (or what ever its called) ??? or is it only the TV signal which is controlling our brains now?

    January 13, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  6. bannana


    October 24, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  7. A worried dutch citizen

    Older dutch people that would have difficulties with muslims??????? they lived through the war, they should know better.
    I'm very worried by the rise of Mr Geert Wilders, he reminds me of a certain someone from the past! He knows what he's doing. He's after new elections. He will get even more votes than last time and that's what he wants. I hope in a way that he will get a chance to rule this country, people will find out what he is really about. Only then he will show his true identity!

    September 8, 2010 at 7:23 am |
  8. Ignorance and anger is a bad mixture

    It is a shame that we let ignorance and anger manipulate our day to day lives. My Question is: Where does Mr. Wilders find the backbone to openly state that Christianity and Judaism are "good" religions and the "right" way? Sure the Christians don't openly kill anymore but they did, for centuries and they didn’t kill to express oppression, they killed to express power, which is arguably worse. The guys bombing train stations and airplanes, they do not have the power to speak and have the world listen to what they have to say, but Geert Wilders does, yet he chooses to do the same as the bombers, only he does it in a less obviously destructive manner, a more vote- collecting manner, fueling the young Dutch generations (such as Erik) with anger and hatred. It’s funny Mr. Wilders compared the Koran to Mein Kampf…I can’t wait till he publishes his own memoir, should be interesting. One would assume that Mr. Wilder's would use his power to try and impose peace, but what he is doing is just as bad as bombing, he is imposing more hate. By stating comments such as "the Muslims should go back to where they all came from" you aren't making things better Mr. Wilders, you are only helping to create more anger, more bombs, and more wars. How Sad.

    Globalization; the movement of people across boarders (lines that men drew on paper for those not familiar), the mixing of cultures, races, and dare I say...religions is inevitable. I speak of this because as much as many may believe that Geert Wilders is concerned with National Security, by his disturbing and ignorant comments one realizes that he is merely scared that the Dutch race will no longer be "pure" and that those couple of kilometers of cold and flat land is no longer purely inhibited by tall, mayonnaise eating Germanic individuals (one can also gather this by the concerns of Erik, above). Its interesting Mr. Wilders has a blind eye to this concept seeing as though His father, a European Christian married an Asian Jew during the Second World War...an Indonesian born and bread young lady may I add, Indonesia being a predominantly Muslim nation. Ironic.

    What made me the most proud of being a Dutch citizen was the fact that Holland is such a culturally diverse nation. There is nothing more interesting than meeting new people from different backgrounds, one learns and understands so much and when one learns and understands, one is able to accept (maybe that's the difference between Mr. Wilders and myself). It seems as though the peroxide must have leaked through to Mr. Wilder's brains, as there is no excuse as to why a man with such good education is running a political campaign based on generalizations and pure anger. Its just embarrassing.

    August 31, 2010 at 4:41 am |
    • Susan

      Mr. Wilders has never said that "Judaism and Christianity" are "good" and the "right way". In act, Mr. Wilders is an athiest and former Catholic. What he has said is that we need to abandon cultural relativism, the idea that a culture where people are stoned for adultery, girls are subject to genital mutilation, etc. is as good as western culture based on freedom of speech and other things. We in the west need to get over the guilt for our success and start protecting the freedom and values we hold dear. He is correct..to equate these two civilizations is ridiculous.

      September 30, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  9. Erik

    I live in Holland
    In the big city's our own Dutch people are a minority.
    Sinds WW2 when there where no muslims living here we gone from 0 to 1 in 16 and its growing exponentially.
    So do the math in the future this coutry is going to be ruled by foreigners.
    We got nothing against people that come here to flee a war or something.
    But most of them just come here for the money especially Turks and Moroccans the last are almoste i dare to say Hated.

    August 22, 2010 at 7:05 am |
    • Susan

      I'm an American living in the the Limburg region. While I can't vote here, I whole heartedly support Mr. Wilders. First, his "anti-Islamic" stance is not the primary push of his party. It promotes many policies that are in keeping with conservative movements in the UK and America– free speech, limited government intervention into the lives of the Dutch people, reduced taxes, etc. I liken his "anit-Islam" position to those who support stopping the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico into the US. He has nothing against Muslims who are willing to integrate into the culture and become Dutch; what he opposses are those Muslims who come here, live off the government (it is more lucrative here for an unskilled laborer to not work and collect welfare than it is to work) and then demand that s/he get to live just as they do in their home countries...that the Dutch conform to Islam rather than the other way around. I love it here, but quite frankly I'm frightened when I see women in veils carrying signs that say "God Bless Hitler" and the like. Neither America (when dealing with Mexican illegals) nor the Dutch should be expected to commit cultural suicide wrapped in the form of tolerance for diversity. Wake up, everyone...you need do decide whether we are a culture of Chamberlains or Churchills.

      September 30, 2010 at 9:38 am |

    2billion muslims will heal the west!

    August 13, 2010 at 4:15 am |

    The jew the arabs the blacks always we seek a victim to blame the white races fall from power blame white no one else!

    August 13, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  12. Jon


    Mayor "Napoleon" Bloomberg and his backstabbing cronies must have a $tupendou$ rea$on which they can't reveal for wanting a sharia-hugging mosque near Ground Zero!
    But the sharia "cobra" they're toying with can quickly grow its fangs and then say "Smile, you're on Candid Scimitar and will soon be buried in a scimitary, ha ha ha!" – proving that one good backstabbing deserves another!
    God-haters and America-haters may not realize how high the collective temperature has now risen in the hearts of true American patriots – many of whom are now willing to die for America right here in America if they get pushed completely over the line!
    Since the nation's headquarters for treason is the White House, readers can enjoy related material if they Google "Obama Avoids Bible Verses" & "Obama Supports Public Depravity" and also Google "Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman" in addition to Googling "Obama...destined to become a black-slavery avenger."
    And by all means visit Googleland and type in "Government-Approved Illegals" and "Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham."
    I hope Mayor Bloomberg, dressed as Napoleon, will thoroughly enjoy his mosquerade party!
    PS – Since Jane Fonda still loves leftist causes, here's a one-liner I penned during the Vietnam War era that the big Kansas City paper ran: "I'm not Fonda Jane; her Laosy remarks Hanoi me!"
    PPS – Interestingly, many conservative evangelicals have lately given up belief in a "pretribulation rapture" (the 180-year-old, fringe-British-invented, escapist-and-thus-subversive theological aberration behind the rapture bestsellers by Lindsey, LaHaye etc.) and now believe they will be on earth, standing against evil, during at least a portion of Antichrist's diabolical reign. Widely read Google articles like "Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts," "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy" and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" have helped to bring about this "pretrib" mutiny.

    A Kansas Patriot

    [while webbing I ran into the above!! Jon]

    July 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  13. Andalusio

    Many here are bad-mouthing Muslims, forgetting that Christians aren't any better: Northern Ireland, Mexico and the drug lords, Rwanda, the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa (pre-1994), Yukoslavia (even the murder of innocent Muslims made Jewish viewers of CNN remember the Holocaust), Lebanon (1975 – 1990... with some people at fault still in government offices), Zimbabwe, the Crusaders... and they're a few more out there.

    Some, I'd noticed lambaste Muslims without thorough research on why militants do what they do, forgetting that thousands of these wild men even attack Muslim civilians within. The likes of Ms. Ali even knew this very well, coming from Somalia. Even a commenter named Juliet sounded like she was talking about Arabs rather than Muslims, since I befriended people whom she described, who happen to be Lebanese. (And by the way, as for the events in East Africa, you're comparing us to some African roadside sellsmen, farmers and fishermen who took up arms against their long-time enemy countries... and fellow Muslims within?)

    If negativity is how you people feel, those of you who come here just to abuse 1.57 billion of a religious race* for the fun of it, for the actions for some thousands without professional non-media research(es) on why the militants do what they do, then do the followings: 1.) Stop using the modern numbers. They're an Islamic invention, before abandoned for Indian numbers. 2.) Abandon Algebra and Geometry. They were invented by Arab Muslims. 3.) Pretend medicines and astronomy never existed. Arabs (Muslims and non-Muslims) perfected these ancient scientific fields hundreds of years ago. 4.) Stop wearing glasses. An Arab Muslim was the perfector of corrective lenses in the 9th century. 5.) Stop going to hospitals and universities. They're aspirations of the earliest of them in history, which were the finest Muslim centers in Baghdad and Muslim Spain... and, since they attracted the whole world to learn there in the day, or get medical treatments, they started this European/U.S. trend we're witnessing in the first place. And 6.) When graduating, wear something else. Your garment was an aspiration of an invention from Muslim Spain, "Andalucia". Now, you're truly ANTI-ISLAM.

    Shalom, salem, salam, peace... and good morning.

    July 17, 2010 at 2:56 am |
    • SR


      Thanks so much for bringing up those "stolen" accomplishments for Islam. If there is just one reason alone to get rid of Islam from the modern day world, Islam's Contempt for Science alone should be on top of the list.

      To correct your errors, stop with Arabic numbers already! We, Indians, invented Zero and the number system known as the Arabic numerals. Since your ancestors in Arabia were traders, who traded with India, they found our number system to be far suprerior to what they were using and adopted ours. Since they were traders, they spread it far and wide. That is the history and that is the Truth. You can Google it.

      Second, to claim a meager list of accomplishments in Islam in Science and claim it is a superior religion, is just the kind of idiocy displayed by modern day islamists. Jews alone with their millions of people can lay claim for a vast majority of inventions than all the 1.5 billions of Muslims put together.

      Go back and do some more reading of the hate filled book called Qur'an. You will learn some more "science" like the ones you quoted.

      August 22, 2010 at 7:44 am |
  14. gandulara

    While the rest of the world is waking up to the islamic threat, the US is depleting its resources eg: soldiers etc and platty cake to the muslim word.....

    July 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Andalusio

      The same U.S. that is sending funds to Israel's settlement programs, as to Judaize what is left of Muslim and Christian landmarks in Mahmoud Abbas-run West Bank? The U.S. is a big misfit and an untrusted country in the Third World.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.