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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. athiest

    its shamefull that cnn delets comments by those like myself that are in here standing up to all these anti muslim racist bigots. my comments about fundemntalist christians and extreamist zionist jews have been deleted. yet those in here who compare muslims to nazis, and claim that all are terrorist are allowed to post freely. i thought cnn was different from fox.

    July 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Andalusio

      You said it!

      July 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  2. Meridia

    Meridia ?? <a

    July 6, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  3. radamon

    Goodness, I can't believe my eyes reading these comments which i can safely assume written mostly by people either from America or Europe.. I can't believe you guys are still in the dark ages, how ignorant and uncultured those comments are, you guys apparently don't have any idea at all about world history, politics, past or present..the complex reality of the world we live in. what would our future become, when "such stupidity" proposes to be the leading force in our contemporary society, deciding billions of people's economy, politics, fashion? Now that really frightens me..That "secular fundamentalism" is as great a danger as the religious one..
    Btw I'm a muslim from Indonesia, a country which probably you hadn't heard of 20 years ago. A secular nation with the biggest muslim population in the world (over 200millions), back in the 50'-60's it was a non-communist nation with the largest communist party in the world (which was disbanded with the help of the US gov) .. o yea, and one of our cities happens to be the site of the world's largest ancient Buddhist temple.. talking about tolerance..:-)

    June 28, 2010 at 5:08 am |
    • Andalusio

      Salam to you, bro. These stupid people are as bad as those abuse the Irate Gamer as an "AVGN Rip off", and had never traveled or loved anything foreign or of a "cultural shock".

      July 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  4. for Juliett

    Juliett, travel in world and learn more, together with people who share your opinion- maybe you will have chance in this life time to learn more and become smarter writer or thinker. Noone is treath to USA- USA is treath to itself and middle east with its army and all rest going with it. Stay in your big continent, peace of land that long ago is taken from native indians, and leave world in harmony. Treath is just story. There are plentyyyy of Muslims in this world who dont care at all about what youre talking. There is plentyyyy of Muslims having troubles with some Muslim radicals and theyre not all same. There is plentyyyy of Muslim cultures all different and you cant place everyone in same corner. Just like I thank God that not all Americans and world shares your opinion. If you ever read any book , talked to some people- you would know better. Not even to mention- how many Americans have passport at all and travel arround world??? Not many. Thats pity. And still you think from your own picture in your mind you know best. Reall SAD.

    June 26, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  5. Juliett

    Tedon up there has it completely right. These Muslims act like parasites and cause massive problems in any country that welcomes them in because they expect that country to conform and change for them. In America they sue companies that don't hire them ( taking advantage of the freedom of religion act) when they refuse to follow the dress codes that ALL OTHER employees must follow. They take terrible advantage of the welfare system in the same way, using their "religion" as an excuse or using discrimination to receive benefits. I have lived in a Muslim community for 2 years and it was terrible. The men sat around on the apartment complex stairs on their cell phones drinking and smoking pot all day asking people for cigarettes ( they could afford the pot and cell phones but not ciggys then again how do they afford cell phones when not working?) The women would put ALL of their kids loose in the halls to bang on peoples walls and be very loud and obnoxious. They did not control or even watch their own kids, everyone else was suppose to. ANd these people were rude as hell to me ( I an white and blond) but not so rude to my fiance ( he is black) They never had gatherings inside their own apartments, they left the apartment doors open and had the gatherings in the hall till all hours of the night. One police officer I called told me directly that he was so sick and tired of coming out to this complex and wished the management would do something about these people. ANd the place smelled to high heaven, like nobody ever washed. I have lived in places slummier then this one and never had the kinds of problems that I had with these rude Muslims. We need to stop targeting the Mexicans and get these Muslims out first as they are the real threat to America and the people that call America home.

    June 21, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Andalusio

      Those people you mention sound a lot like "Arabs" rather than "Muslims". And get used to it. It's called "Cultural shock", and many of the parents in places like Lebanon, unfortunately, let their kids get spoiled. My cous' one of them. Even I had gotten used to these kinds of people a long time ago, since a few happen to be my friends, living as expats here in Nigeria. Maybe you should have flown to northern Nigeria rather than the misfit Middle East, which my Arab Muslim father had equally disowned for good, appearent reasons.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Tensai13

    Some try to falsely equate the anti-Islam movement with racism in an attempt to discredit those of us who resist the "Islamification" of our secular societies. There are some amongst the movement who are clearly racist but probably the vast majority are simply aghast at the horrors that result from the spread of Islam and don't want this pernicious, life-sucking religion taking root in America as it has in Britain, France, Germany and Holland to their very great regret. Just as one may hate the sin but not the sinner,, it is the religion we hate, not the people.

    June 20, 2010 at 7:52 am |
    • Juliett

      I would usually agree but in this case it is a specific kind of person that would follow a "religion" that preaches so much violence against the innocent. I have known a couple all out followers of The Church Of Satan while looking at the different religions of the world, and even these "Satanists" do NOT preach any harm to others, Do NOT sacrifice humans, and do all these scary things people think they do. They just believe that Satan was in the right instead of God and they dont go around hurting anyone or causing any problems, but believe what they want to believe in a peaceful manner without involving others that don't want to be involved. So yes America, Muslims are much, much worse then even the idea people have of Satanists, Muslims, push their religion onto everyone else or threaten them, they "sacrifice" hundreds of innocent people every year, their very "holy book" preaches harm and murder to and of other people. Yhey kill people for drawing pictures! I mean really people!! I would do just about anything to get these sick and violent, woman abusing, idiots out of my community and out of my country!

      June 21, 2010 at 9:08 am |
    • Andalusio

      ‎"O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. Lo! God is Knower, Aware." - The Rooms 49:13

      Yeah, sounds like a violent religion to me!

      And Tensai13, we have Muslims in the U.K. because of old British, colonial influences in the Indian countries... and they love the country, both Muslims and Hindus. You ought to read history first before going over the red line. And, besides, we have mosques and congragations as to keep our religion, cultures and languages alive. (Even I, because of otherwise, don't even know how to speak Arabic, or my African mother's native language, Uhrobo, either.) Isn't this what European Jews had been doing in their part for centuries, until they dreamt of having their "Home State" in the 19th century? I give up.

      July 19, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
  7. Agnostic

    The tenor of this blog goes to show that religion is the bane of humanity. We would all be better off if everyone just relied on and used their own intelligence to determine how to conduct themselves among others. I still contend that Islam is the worst of the lot and is a metaphysical cancer in the ranks of humanity. Quotes from Islamic religious texts demonstrate that the pathway to peace is not achieved through its theological ramblings. Pope Benedict was correct and should not have apologized. It is very, very naive to think that Islam is benign.
    Let's try a little freedom of speech and see how long it is permitted to posted for all to see. Mohammed is a dog copulating pedophile and Allah is a pig. For that I should die, mere words. Okay, so Muslims are offended, so what? From their viewpoint they should be, but it does not warrant taking a life. By design Allah gave us a free will. Muslims demand that our free will be stripped from us by their religious police, e.g., the Revolutionary Guard. This is in violation of Allah's design and is a sin of pride by placing themselves above the wishes of Allah that we have a free will. Islam is so irrational that only someone duped since childhood could subscribe to it, or someone threatened with being murdered unless they submit. It cannot compete in an open market of ideas, that is why it is so prone to terrorism. It is the only way that it can survive. It cannot stand on its own merits, it has none.
    All of the posts that itemize why Islam is dangerous and hypocritical have very valid observations. I see none of the Muslims acknowledging that these concerns have merit and are real. I have not seen any offer to grant those building permits for churches and synagogues in Mecca and Medina. All that I hear from Muslims is, trust us and we are peaceful, while the historical record is very much to the contrary. Of course, if you are Muslim you do not feel threatened by Islam because you are not a target. All you have to do is keep quiet and let the terrorists do your dirty work of converting the world by sword and blood letting. At this rate there will be no meeting of minds and we will be engaged in a war for many of years to come. Either the rule of reason will eventually win or the tyranny of Islam will prevail, no middle ground. Islam is inviting a terrible reckoning that, I believe, will lead to a nuclear war. Iran, Al Qaieda, or Pakistan will be the first to use nukes and then all bets are off on the fury that will fall on the world of Islam. However, Muslims are comfortable with their bigoted practices and will continue with their game plan of world hegemony. Americans are getting tired Islam's dictatorship in the countries they rule and the lack of human rights. Islam, your day is coming and it will not be pretty. It is too bad Muslims are such a flock of dumb sheep incapable of thinking for themselves. Many good people among them will be led to the slaughter by their radical imams, ayatollahs, and foolish fatwahs that they blindly follow without challenge.
    Do a reality check. Muslims will be swept aside by their own internal forces of evil and will suffer the a fate of mass die off when the Islamic radicals push the world over the edge and into the abyss. In the world's history there has never been a lack for another Hitler to lead this or that faction into total conflict. This time, those crazy people that write that sort of history are coming out of the Islamic world. Mankind never learns its lessons and religious texts are often the justification used for violence. Religion is used as a cover because the followers are instructed that the "word" cannot be questioned, it comes directly from God, Allah, Yaweh, Baal, etc. In truth all religious writings are the invention of men who wish to control and manipulate innocent people to their own political ends. Sorry, but that is the truth and any good people that adhere to Islam are merely pawns to put lipstick and that pig. In spite of the cosmetics, the pig (Islam) is still very ugly and obviously so.

    June 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • SR

      Agnostic

      This is the best Blog post so far in entire CNN!!!

      Can you write more? We are all tired of the cut and paste jobs of Reality. We need some rationalists in this blog.

      Also please stop responding to every Muslim lovers' post. It is a waste of time. They won't change their mind.

      We just need to protect ourselves and our freedoms from Islam.

      August 22, 2010 at 7:51 am |
  8. why

    USA citizens should stick their ass to USA and not to EU matters. Thats what they are best at.

    June 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  9. jimbo, st. louis mo

    I understand Geert Wilders' position. If I saw minarets going up all over the nauseatingly catholic city I live in I would be alarmed too. I don't see Islam as a very tolerant way to live. I am gay and an atheist so say what you will, but I would not want the USA to have much of a Muslim population. Consider what is happening in California. They are losing citizens to other states but gaining more from other countries. Not just latin america. Asian immigrants come in, vote usually very conservatively, against american values, and life-long residents move away.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  10. Johnnyleen

    It doesn't help that those in the Netherlands considered "immoral" by Muslims have been attacked with rocks, etc. (And I think you can all guess the "immoral" people I mean. If not, look up Chris Crain.) My feeling is that you shouldn't come to live in a country where you will be subjected to behavior you disapprove of and feel you have to attack people. And if you're a refugee, then you're there out of the grace of the citizens and you better mind your p's and q's.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  11. diego

    i'd kick them out because they threaten our safety. muslims condone violence, so keep it to their own countries.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  12. tmed

    well they can all ways stay in the country they were born in and not worry about it....oooh yeah that right because muslims don't even like muslims in their own country. I am glad for the netherlands now the usa should do the same. i live close to dearborn in michigan and i agree must muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are muslims.......99.9% of the time......how ban all religion except in your own house and maybe we could all get along.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  13. Mij

    Ok, I have been reading all of these comments, and have been thinking about my view. I live in Canada, and we have some similar isues though not as obvious. What i find annoying is that many of these views contradict themselves. For example, I hear some say " ban all religion-95% of the world's problems are caused by religion". Religion is a basic human feature, that makes us human, like introspection and reason. Without a solid internal system of beliefs/values i.e. a "religion" we cannot function as a human being. If we have no basic morals-which come from religion" we woudl be in disarray. Mankind is by nature, corruptt and selfish..it is human nature. Also, if you look at the theory of evolution, you see "survival of the fittest". In my opinion what this may be is just races fighting for domination. Look at the bar scene/dating scene. Do all the single guys get dates/laid when they go to a bar. No. generally the best looking/weathiest ones will..so there is always a power struggle and class struggle..no one is equal even if that is espoused in western society.

    June 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  14. Noble9

    If muslims really want political support they might try to:

    1) contribute something to the societies where they live. Make charitable donations to non-muslim groups, host soup kitchens, volunteer at hospitals, etc.
    2) speak out against extremism. Whenever there are bombings, beheadings, what-have-you, where are the muslims critical of this kind of thing? Silence implies condonement.
    3) publicize their activities and agenda. Who are these veiled people walking around our society, what do they believe in? No one knows unless they don't make it a big secret.

    They way they act now is as a weird, isolationist sect. The only time you hear from muslims is when they're complaining about things and having loud, violent demonstrations. Who wants neighbors like that?

    June 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  15. Leah (TXanimal)

    What a shame. When I lived in the Netherlands, I lived in a neighborhood that was largely Muslim. I was there on 9/11 and lived there during the first part of OEF. The only anger I witnessed in my neighborhood was directed toward extremists and the shame they brought to Islam as a whole. Shame on those who further cast a shadow on their cultural heritage and perpetuate stereotypes. And shame on those in the government who exacerbate the problem by propagating fear. Everyone loses.

    June 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  16. Wayne Burkett

    I believe there is an instant fear of immigrants who come to your country as a guest wanting you tochange your language, your culture, you religion to accommodate them. If they wanted all of this why did they leave their home country in the first place? This is the problem we now face with the illegal mexican population now. They do not want to abide by any of our laws. We must do all the changing to accommodate them. Now, we have given up so much, even the radical part is the same. The Dutch, like the US has a reason to fear. Something has to happen and the giving has to stop.

    June 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  17. Art

    Anyone remember Theo Van Gogh?

    June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  18. Andre

    Religion is for people that cant think by themselves....

    June 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • Gary

      agree Andre

      June 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  19. Muhammad Ali Farooq

    Under what LAW christians(america) gone to Islamic countries to destory them?? christians said it is war? against who? muslims civilians?

    June 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Noble9

      Are you talking about Afghanistan? It's not just christians at war, it's an alliance of several countries that include all religions. No one wants to kill civilians, muslim or otherwise. This is about destroying lawless regions that promote the unchecked development of terrorists.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mystery Resolved

      Christians came to Pakistan and Afghanistan cause you bombed them thinking you would be safe in your Terrorist heaven, you have been bombing India and Hindus since years and always got away with it, this time you were wrong Goat heads... You took on your nemesis the USA that will hunt you down as a rabbied dog should be....

      June 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  20. Muhammad Ali Farooq

    Islam is the best and Complete religion.... it answer any question about life. You have to read and understand... Islam is bigger then these few clowns who have nothing to do other then spit their internal flith....
    I love Islam.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mystery Resolved

      "Mr Farooq" solves the great mystery as to why islam turns Humans into Goats :)...
      Can I know what kind of answers you seek about life Mr Farooq ? :)... So you abandone your God given reasoning and seek answeres to "All" questions about life in the Koran ? Does Koran have a manual on how to go about devouring 72 virgin in Heaven ? ...Does Koran tell you how to stand and P ? Do you need to learn that too :)...
      Voila !! You see guys, This is precisely the reason why even human race starts looking and thinking like Goats when they take to Islam, If only the poor Mohammad knew that his book was gonna be used this way he would have been more descriptive and comprehensive in his manual the Koran :)..

      June 15, 2010 at 4:18 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.