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. Bill

    I read this article after reading about the flogging of a 14 year old in Afghanistan who was fleeing a forced marriage. Many in the West do not want that "culture" or thought process in their midst. Even if it's a small %.

    June 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  2. Remie Buiten

    It is the Netherlands you stupid, not Holland. The writer of this article has not a clue what she writing about. All that rubbish that Muslims are only about 5% of the population in the Netherlands. 50% of newborn in the Netherlands is from Muslim parents. Nothing wrong with that, but you get a reaction from the natives. Very simple to understand...nothing to do with going to the far right.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Vinit

    Your Allah has a very exclusive club, it seems its very hard for mere mortals to join it, over 3 billion people DONT belong to the exclusive club of Muslims, Jews, and Chritians :)... Did he make mankind by birth or by the religion ...what do they teach you in madrassas antoinette? I guess you must have visited the madrassas in Pakistan..:) ...you guys are real dumb tribals.....insane

    June 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Bubba

      You don't sound like a person who is in any position to be calling someone else "dumb".

      June 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • Antoinette

      Dear Vinit, I still will not insult you, you do a good job insulting your own intelligence 🙂
      I never been to a madrassa and never been to Pakistan. I am not judged by the actions of others, as no one can speak for me before God. Islam isn't an exclusive club, ALL ARE WELCOME 🙂 All of mankind was born Muslim, it was your teaching after birth that determined who you are today. Muslim means submission to God. All of God's creations has to submit to HIM. I am very well educated, from your reply to me, I can safely assume more educated than you my friend. But that's ok too, because we're all commissioned to learn from craddle to the grave and today you are being taught my friend. 🙂
      Stop with the insults, its better to ask questions to inquire than to poke fingers, make fun due and throw insults as a way to cover up your ignorance. Respect is something that should've been taught from childhood from those who raised you. Your insults and ignorance displays a lacking in your upbringing 🙁

      June 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Vinit

      Ok..answer me..if you have any brains left to think on your own after years of madrassa education :)..
      Question: Was mankind created first or the religion? If you are not dumb, you would say "mankind"..
      Now: If the mankind was created first then Mankind is supreme and complete in itself, you need not convert or follow a religion to reach God..a human being is made complete and has all the means to reach almighty through his body alone....therefore religions that preach conversion are not inline with lords dictate..least of all islam that was spread by tribal warlords by the sword... I think this was too analytical for your date sized muslim brains 🙂

      June 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bubba

      And what size of brain does it take to sit on top of a bag of manure? The answer is starring at you in the mirror.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Antoinette

    Zion, Honey, you aren't a Jew and if you are, You've cursed yourself with your insults to Allah. I wouldn't insult anyone's belief including those who do not believe in God. I do not know anyone who insulted God or challenge God become victorious!! I pray for you still, because you are ignorant. Poor fellow, Satan has gotten a hold of you too, smh.
    Respect is the key people. There is extremism in anything someone become obsessed with. Your comments and insults has shown your "extremism" with your hatred towards a group of people or a religion, you too are an extremist!! And the sad part about it, you dont see it. But I realize you are BLIND, its just a shame that you don't. As the Prophet Muhammad (SWT) has taught his followers, continuously pray for those who persecute you, insult you and disrespect you. The worse enemies of God and the Prophets (all of them) has become BELIEVERS too. 🙂

    June 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  5. Antoinette

    If you are a true JEW, CHRISTIAN or MUSLIM you should know that they are all brothers and sisters serving ONE GOD and the same GOD unless you are serving Satan and dont realize it. The Quran states, that they all will be judged according to the "Book" that they follow, whether it be the Torah, Holy Book (Centurion) or the Quran. It doesn't matter your religion, God judges your HEART. How can you believe you are serving God but claims to hate another for his beliefs? I have friends of all religions and races. My daughter God parents are Jewish, I have friends of Catholic faith, Christian, Muslims. It doesn't matter "your" faith, because it's "your" faith and only God can judge us. We all have to go back to He who has created us. Ignorance is Bliss and Ignorance is what God hates!! Check yourselves people, clearly Satan is in control and loving it!! You all lost with your hatred and insults. If you are a JEW and you call ALLAH a dog, you can't be JEW!! LOL Allah is God, the Creator in Arabic!! Any religion can say, "Allah" because it means, God. Allah doesn't belongs to just the Muslims but to all mankind as it is being spread to all mankind!! In order to dislike something, you should learn about it first to draw a conclusion and be critical, but prejudice brings about hatred of what you do not know. And shame on any JEW who promote hatred towards another because of his religion!!! Surely, what have you learned about the "your" holocaust???

    June 10, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Bubba

      Well said. Zion is too ignorant to understand that and his reservatiions in h3lll are being confirmed.

      June 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • JK

      As a jew and as a person who lost over 70% of my family in the holocaust I can tell you that it doesn't matter, The world hated and will always hate JEWS, History didn't change when it comes to jews.
      The only difference is that jews now are much stronger then they were in the past, It's what history and time made us.

      June 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • zion

      i could give a rats @ss what the book of satan aka the quran says. muslims are pigs and they follow a dog called allah

      June 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • zion

      you are brainwashed like all other muslims if you think muslims jews and christians believe in the same god. I believe in the one true God – you believe in an idol and his false prophet muhammad.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Dear God:

      Muslims are starting to pay the price for turning a blind eye to the atrocities carried out by fundamentalists and extremists who commit injustices to people all over the world IN YOUR NAME. You are allowing these sick individuals define who you are as a Muslim by allowing them breath, even for a minute, peacefully.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • frank

      "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."

      The reason Dutch society is no longer tolerant is because of the influx of Islam.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • Naana

      Who is the idol?

      June 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • Kris

      Antoinette – If you are in Malaysia, it is illegal to use the word "Allah" to refer to God if you are not a Muslim. Just for your information.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:14 am |
    • jonathan

      If you speak English then you should call Allah, God and not Allah. If you speak Arabic then you should call him Allah.. Get it??? probably not.....and that's the problem...

      June 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  6. Joe

    Funny thing happens when you start murdering acrtoonists and biting the hand that feeds you. People will tend to want to throw you out of their country.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  7. JK

    We will always remember the holocaust, It's what we fight for Mr. VON VILDOOSHBAG

    June 10, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  8. sam

    Johannas von whatever- Are on the same page or you are trying like any other muslim to attach Israel to even the backward thinking of Muslims?!!! You name is probably Ali or Fati

    June 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Naana

      Zion, you really are going to far..... people are not pigs...... you're not making any gains for your side with that type of talk. The same can be said about Jewish holy books, that they are crap or the Bible, but it's disrespectful... try and be a little more diplomatic 🙂 call it a Fairy Tale....

      June 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  9. Antoinette

    Ironically, Islam is doing what God has said it would do, "Spread across the world"....I am laughing but I am witness to the TRUTH. I was taught in Christianity that God's people would be persecuted for their Religion and I see it to be truth with Muslims. Muslims are the most hated people in the world, so thank you haters for showing me what God said will be so, His chosen people will be hated, persecuted, unwelcomed and as the scriptures explains it, those who hold firm, steadfast and seek God will have salvation. Your hate is showing the world that Islam is the true religion!! Thank you for confirming the FAITH. I LOVE IT!!

    June 10, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • zion

      not a big surprise that Islam spread like wild fire when they threatened to kill those who didn't convert..... friendlier religions like Judaism never forced conversions..... you really are stupid aren't you?

      June 10, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • jack nickos

      you are trying to prove that islam is the true religion, but using the christian holy book as the primary source. Doesnt sound like a good argument to me..
      as far as i can see, islam propagates hate and violence against anyone who stands against them. However, this is perpetrated by a smaller group. Extremists do exist in every religion. The biggest difference is others brew hatred in their mind, whereas extreme muslims put it into action. I just dont understand why they cant be moderate and live in harmony with the rest.

      June 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • jonathan

      Now I understand why Muslims treat their women the way they do... Honey , your judgment is not bad but God, awful, terrible.

      June 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • EL

      You have twisted what the Bible said. You agree to Islam which says "Allah has no son". Yet Jesus was declared "the Son of G-d". The Bible said that the Saints will be persecuted in the last days of the Unbeliever. Islam is persecuting anyone, but especially Christians, and Jews. I will pray for you to know it. I will pray for all of you. The time is coming when all will be revealed. Thus the term Apocalypse. For the record Islam is not older than Christianity for the person who said that it was. If you believe that, you are unaware of factual history. Your Koran allows all others to be lied too. I have read it. I find it wanting. On forgiveness. Love. Temperance. Truth. The Bible on the other hand states you must follow those standards, to be one of the Saints. Muslims are not saints.

      June 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  10. sam

    I agree with Suha. No matter were i went muslims around the world try to cheat the system by using social services and at the same time work under the table and not declare it. they have the best system in steeling from stores lying and using every mean to advance their cause. I lived with them and grow up with them in 5 differnet countries their action and way of thinking is the same.
    A chines person works from morning to night. they are willing to sleep any were but work hard. Of course there are cheaters from all walks of life, But the muslim culture is something else and never to be trusted.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  11. Casual Observer

    The crusades are certainly nothing to be proud of – but why was there the need for the crusades? Seems like the followers of Islam had their own little regional crusades going on. Remember the Ottoman Empire – they had their own versions of the crusades – their victims are in the millions. The Muslims had a neat agreement with Nazi Germany and with the Kaiser in WWI – all with the intent of killing off the Jews. What happened to the religion of peace and respecting the "children of the Book" as mentioned by the Prophet in the Koran?
    The intent of the modern Muslim world is to recreate the Ottoman Empire and expand it – no what what they have to do to get it done. Given the tenants of Islam and how they are supposed to treat the poor etc – it seems that there is a severe disconnect between the Saudi Royal family and the other 995 of the country that has the same standard of living they had in the 10th century – nothing like progress.
    There are as many variations on the message of the Prophet as there are imans – and most of them are based on hate.
    Just listen to their words and watch their actions – they are not men of god. They dance to the beat of the gin.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • zion

      not a big surprise that Islam spread like wild fire when they threatened to kill those who didn't convert..... friendlier religions like Judaism never forced conversions..... you really are stupid aren't you?

      June 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  12. Erasmus

    I don't see why the Freedom Party is labelled "far right" just because it has been honest about the damaging effects of high immigration and the dangers of fundamentalist Islam. But I suppose if you label it far right or with some other smear then you don't have to address the issues and the apologists and appeasers can carry on with the ostrich mentality pretending everything is OK or that the issues will somehow solve themselves. The criticism should instead be of the mainstream parties for failing to live up to their responsibilities for the last twenty or thirty years.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  13. zion

    tell them to bring their knives, I'll be waiting with a shotgun

    June 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • Vinit

      Yes Zion, the date sized muslim brain can never figure out how to make a shotgun :)... thank Allah that he didnt give his subjects brains..:)

      June 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • jonathan

      Kindly take another name please. Your posts do not reflect that of Zion..

      June 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • jonathan

      an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth you both loose..kindly come up with a better idea!

      June 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  14. Big Bob

    Hey Abd?

    Asked ya yesterday. When all of those pesky white christians fade away, would you like sharia as the law of the land?

    June 10, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  15. Johannas Von Vilhelm

    See now that's fine, just don't you dare break out the crayolas and draw a picture of Mohammad or you'll have the crazies coming in the windows with knives. To kill you.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Joe

      Do they get mad if you draw muhammed with invisible ink?

      June 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  16. Chris

    I applaud Europe for finally standing up against immigrants imposing their beliefs on everyone. Being Muslim is a RELIGION, being Iranian, Pakistani, or Indian is a RACE. Lets make this distinction.

    No one is saying they can't be proud of their race or their religion. But when immigrant Leaders of certain religions try to impose their laws and wills all over the country, then they have crossed the line. As immigrants they should assimilate to the Western Culture, just as someone from England would have to do the same if they lived in Iran.

    Its not about hate, its not about racism, its about doing the right thing for your country and countrymen.

    God Bless America

    June 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • jonathan

      Your espression below is not that of Zion....kindly take another name please.

      June 11, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  17. Tim

    I am amazed at the self delusion many pepole practice when it comes to the Muslim faith. Check out the world; 9 out of 10 of the hot spots in the world today, on one side there are always Muslims.

    I know what some of you will say; that not all Muslims are like that, but read CONAN's post above. He is precisely correct, "Remember, not all muslims are terrorist but all terrorist are muslim......"

    If the Muslims would only learn to respect other cultures and assimilate, this world would be a safer and happier place.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • jonathan

      Islam cannot assimilate but will eventually have to take over and dominate because of it's tenants...it's spirit has been activated, from the crusades, which is war! The genie cannot be put back in the bottle unless by nuclear force...the only other option is mines..which is Zionism!!!

      June 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  18. Bubba

    zion- I think I just insulted a donkey-you're far to ignorant to be called a donkey.

    June 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Johannas Von Vilhelm

      Trying to take down a zionist on an American hosted page is pretty much a complete waste of effort – or perhaps you didn't know – the US will likely be supporting Israel no matter what it does for quite some time.

      b-b-b-b-but remember the holocaust?!

      June 10, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  19. PeaceinMIDeast

    Johannas, shouldn't you be in Peru behind bars?

    June 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  20. Casual Observer

    You think that modern Europe would have learned from the mistakes of the Roman Empire – you can't open your borders to barbarians and expect good things to happen. The majority of the Muslims in France and Germany are modern barbarians – they invade, take want they want (via welfare) and make no positive contribution to that nation. their only contribution is having children – check out the birthrate statistics. A casual check of the negative economic impact of the Muslims on welfare on France and Germany is easily verifiable with some web surfing.
    Their strategy is elegantly simplistic – learn to work the system to your advantage and then just out breed the indigenous populations and after a few generations they will have the large numbers required to take over a society from within.
    The Muslim world is not sending their best and brightest to Europe. They are not educated and do not want to assimilate into the native culture.
    There is nothing racist about this – it is reality – their actions are driven by a misguided religion that has no central authority and allows radical groups to act and speak for all the "believers".

    June 10, 2010 at 3:59 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.