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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. Ed

    What a stupid thing to say that only 1.5 million out of 16 million people have voted for wilders.

    We have 16 million inhabitants !, from those 16 million there are 10 million voters ! , so a LARGE piece of the once very "open minded" dutch people now wants a goverment that has only 1 say to radical moslims ; abide the dutch LAW and the dutch customs, or GET LOST !

    Why o why has this happened to our great open minded dutch nation? Its time to say it ; the moslim created this hate by completely disregarding the dutch customs, the dutch law , and to trash the dutch people, trying to walk over them all !.

    There's an old dutch saying "boontje komt om zijn loontje" (Harvesting what you have seeded)

    June 11, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  2. Berg

    If Islam is such a peaceful and loving religion, why does only Widlers have to walk around Holland with 20 bodyguards, an armoured car and a bulletproof vest whilst the Prime Minister (now -ex) and every other politician are under no threat?

    I can assure you, if any politician had critque over Christianity or Judaism, it would accepted. If you criticize the Islam, you life is on the line- even in a free country like Holland.

    June 11, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  3. jack

    It is part of their faith that nobody can convert to other relgions, once they convert to islam. This is their faith. I know some Muslims in USA who left their relgion but other Muslims did not retaliate to that. It is our constitution and freedom of religion that allows people to convert to any relgion they want.. They have their rules, we have ours.

    June 11, 2010 at 12:24 am |
    • jack

      just to set records straight , from today's news ...More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995 when ethnic Serb troops overran a United Nations safe area. The five-day slaughter was the worst European massacre since World War II and was described by the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal as "the triumph of evil."
      Christians are just as evil as anybody else when it comes to racism. Ask a black american.

      June 11, 2010 at 7:59 am |
    • Total non sense

      hey jack,
      what make you think that 7000 less mulsims, who main activity is to blowup innocents peoples, is a bad thing? it just make the next plane you board a little bit safer.

      June 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  4. Templar

    Like it was truly said before: Remember, not all muslims are terrorist but all terrorist are muslim......
    They don`t accept other religions so why should we accept theirs, specially inside our countries???
    Why non-muslim can convert to muslim, but muslim can never convert to Christian for example... if they wanna live between us they should accomodate in our society in every way, otherwise...
    Europe and US need to act now to stop this dark disase to spread called islam...

    June 11, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • jack

      No Muslim is forcing you to convert to their relgion in America or Europe. If people are converting to Islam, they are doing it by their own will. Besides, America and Europe are not Christian countries. People from all faiths get to live here. We should accept them all.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • jack

      A Hindu, Jew, Sikh or Budhist does not have to convert to Christianity to be accomadoated or accepted in American society and they also practice their relgions. Why are you expecting Muslims to leave their religion to be accepted here? You admitted yourself all Muslims are not terrorists. So if they are not terrorists, but they just want to stay Muslim, whats your problem with that?

      June 11, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • jack

      Dont compare USA with Muslim countries. They have their laws and we have ours. If you ask a Black American, he will tell you that USA is a racist society. Our schools are doing bad, our communities are living below poverty line. We really do not get paid as much as whites do. Muslim countries do not have racism against any color at least. They are good in somethings and we are good in some other things.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • jack

      please read Malcolm X's last message, only then will you be able to understand me. Islam is color and race blind.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:31 am |
    • Naana

      Yikes, this Jack has a one track mind........so go to the Middle East where you will not be discriminated against.... and whomever wants to read MalcomX.... puhlease...

      June 11, 2010 at 12:53 am |
    • CAL1

      @ JACK

      "Islam is color and race blind"

      That's right; and it's also blind to religious affiliation: in short, it makes no difference whether you are white, red, yellow or black, or whether you are Christian, Buddhist, Animist, Atheist or even Muslim; when it comes to killing and murdering to “convert the infidels by the sword” NOTHING MATTERS, not even the age of those murdered

      June 11, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  5. jack

    But despite the fact that I saw that Islam was a religion of brotherhood, I also had to face reality. And when I got back into this American society, I'm not in a society that practices brotherhood. I'm in a society that might preach it on Sunday, but they don't practice it on no day - on any day. And so, since I could see that America itself is a society where there is no brotherhood and that this society is controlled primarily by racists and segregationists - and it is - who are in Washington, D.C., in positions of power. And from Washington, D.C., they exercise the same forms of brutal oppression against dark-skinned people in South and North Vietnam, or in the Congo, or in Cuba, or in any other place on this earth where they're trying to exploit and oppress. This is a society whose government doesn't hesitate to inflict the most brutal form of punishment and oppression upon dark-skinned people all over the world.

    – Malcolm X's last message

    June 10, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dante

      Word to the Black Racist Muslim Brotha....look like da Man done got in yo Head!

      June 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  6. jack

    But when you just judge a man because of the color of his skin, then you're committing a crime, because that's the worst kind of judgment. If you judged him just because he was a Jew, that's not as bad as judging him because he's Black. Because a Jew can hide his religion. He can say he's something else - and which a lot of them do that, they say they're something else. But the Black man can't hide. When they start indicting us because of our color that means we're indicted before we're born, which is the worst kind of crime that can be committed. The Muslim religion has eliminated all tendencies to judge a man according to the color of his skin, but rather the judgment is based upon his deeds.

    – Malcolm X's last message

    June 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • Jen

      Excuse me?! "If you judged him just because he was a Jew, that's not as bad as judging him because he's Black. Because a Jew can hide his religion. He can say he's something else – and which a lot of them do that, they say they're something else." And this is alright? This is exactly what you have to do if you want to live in an Islamic country. But that's fine with you? It's ok for people to have to hide? Selfish, intolerant, ignorant...I could go on...

      June 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  7. jack

    So before I get involved in anything nowadays, I have to straighten out my own position, which is clear. I am not a racist in any form whatsoever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim. And there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim, nothing wrong with the religion of Islam. It just teaches us to believe in Allah as the God. Those of you who are Christians probably believe in the same God, because I think you believe in the God who created the universe. That's the One we believe in, the one who created the universe, the only difference being you call Him God and I - we call Him Allah. The Jews call him Jehovah. If you could understand Hebrew, you'd probably call him Jehovah too. If you could understand Arabic, you'd probably call him Allah.

    – Malcolm X's last message

    June 10, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Rational Thinker

      "Jack the Ripper" speaks 🙂
      Atleast you agree that islam is intolerant of all other religions .. 🙂 Good begining dude..

      June 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  8. jack

    So that once you realize that I believe in the Supreme Being who created the universe, and believe in him as being one - I also have been taught in Islam that one God only has one religion, and that religion is called Islam, and all of the prophets who came forth taught that religion - Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, all of them. And by believing in one God and one religion and all of the prophets, it creates unity. There's no room for argument, no need for us to be arguing with each other.

    And also in that religion, of the real religion of Islam - –doesn't teach anyone to judge another human being by the color of his skin. The yardstick that is used by the Muslim to measure another man is not the man's color but the man's deeds, the man's conscious behavior, the man's intentions. And when you use that as a standard of measurement or judgment, you never go wrong.

    -from Malcolm X's last message

    June 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
    • Holy Grail

      Jack seems to have visited Pakistan off late or has studied in a Madrassa (muslim religious school).. they have brain washed him into thinking that 72 virgins will be had in heaven :).. and also as Muhammad did he would get to marry 6 year old girls and consume Ayesha at 9 years of age :)... Jack you must be happy that a religion is offering so much :).. no other religion can give what Islam gives... imagine getting 72 virgins in heaven man? woow where is the imam I wanna convert todaaayyyyyyy

      June 14, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  9. jack

    So when I got over there and went to Makkah and saw these people who were blond and blue-eyed and pale-skinned and all those things, I said, "Well!" But I watched them closely. And I noticed that though they were white, and they would call themselves white, there was a difference between them and the white one over here. And that basic difference was this: in Asia or the Arab world or in Africa, where the Muslims are, if you find one who says he's white, all he's doing is using an adjective to describe something that's incidental about him, one of his incidental characteristics; so there's nothing else to it, he's just white.

    But when you get the white man over here in America and he says he's white, he means something else. You can listen to the sound of his voice - when he says he's white, he means he's a boss. That's right. That's what "white" means in this language. You know the expression, "free, white, and twenty-one." He made that up. He's letting you know all of them mean the same. "White" means free, boss. He's up there. So that when he says he's white he has a little different sound in his voice. I know you know what I'm talking about.

    This was what I saw was missing in the Muslim world. If they said they were white, it was incidental. White, black, brown, red, yellow, doesn't make any difference what color you are. So this was the religion that I had accepted and had gone there to get a better knowledge of it.
    ....from Malcolm X's last message

    June 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  10. ozzie451

    Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most of today's terrorists are Muslims. I lived and worked in Arabia for ten years and, believe me, they want to convert you and me and to impose their Sharia law on all of us, complete with stonings and beheadings. Google the term “stoning” and have a look at some of the web sites for a graphic illustration. Is this the sort of world you want to live in?

    June 10, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  11. Steven

    What a badly written article. Wilders has NEVER said that Muslims are the cause of all the economic problems, he has however said that without mass immigration of underprivileged people, The Netherlands could have handled the impact of the crisis a lot better. And let's get this straight the Freedom Party is NOT far-right. I voted for D66 which is the party that has almost complete opposite views to Wilders' party but I will defend Wilders here.

    June 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  12. the undertaker

    I like how the muslim Spalburg 'concedes' that many young muslims may become radicalized if Wilder's party rises.
    Sounds like a veiled threat.

    June 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
    • MeganColorado

      Hilarious! It doesn't appear that too many caught your pun...what a shame.

      June 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  13. linda

    i have muslim friends and family and i still voted fore wilders. he just want's the dutch culture to stay the same as do i.
    as long as you follow the law and you live by the dutch values there is no problem.

    i think it is just crazy that there are so many people that are living in holland for sometimes over 30 years and they still can't speak dutch others want the sharia law and what is most upsetting to me that everybody can say everything they want except when it's about muslims or the islam than like wilders you have to have a bullitproof vest and 24 hour protection and he can berraly see his wife or family and friends because if he does he will put them in danger.
    i also think its best that teher will bee no more mass immigration and no more burqa

    but people don't look deeper in to the other things wilders stands for. the only topic is the islam and that is to bad because there is more to wilders and the pvv. i am not saying i agree with everything he says but
    like taking care of the elderly ,tougher punishments for criminals,more police,better heathcare,no alcohol while driving,no double pasports,keep retirement age at 65, stop welfare and bennifits for people that no longer live in holland,better schooling,better public transportation,annimal rights
    i could go...so i think its a good thing pvv got this big
    GO WILDERS!!!!

    June 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  14. Naana

    Unfortuantelly it is not a few Muslims who are extremist. I live in the West and see burkas, and women covered in black and their faces completelly hiddn behind black cloth with incisions for the eys. I often am taken aback in a store when I come accross these women walking behind their husbands who are dressed in jeans and t-shirts pushing a shopping cart. In the West these women have the right to dresss this way, however, were I to go to Soudi Arabia and dress in a mini, I don't believe that my dress would be tolerated on the streets of Arabic most Arabic and Muslim nations in the Middle east. Further I don't appreciate the mean looks I get from these women and their 7 children touching every peace of exposed bread with their dirty little hands, that I am planning to buy for my family.

    When we are talking about tolerance, there is none in the Arab world. If you expect western women to be covered when they come to the Middle East, then your women should wear the clothes that women here in the West wear. What are Muslim women hiding? They have everything other women have. The mere fact of dressing in a burka is extremist to me, and only extremist people adhere to these practices.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Black Jack

      Your kind words for the saudi women and their 7 children touching the exposed bread with their dirty hands tell us very well who is more intolerant. This is their custom and their land and they can do whatever they can do under their law and you should also abide by their laws. Muslims in USA follow the consitution here. BTW, Christianity is not the relgion of USA or any European country. If women want to wear burqa here, you should actually go change your laws.

      June 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  15. mpdman

    Wilders is at the forefront of a war we are all going to fight over the next 30 years. The "religion of peace" is out to remove us all.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  16. Jesse

    In Islam, the holy book is the Quran. This is the book that most of a Muslims beliefs are based upon, but this is not the only book. There is another set of books called Hadiths, back to these in a second. See the Quran is not in chronological order, but is for the most part grouped from the longest Surah (chapter) to the shortest Surah. Because they are not in Chronological order, the sequence of events is not clear from the Quran itself.
    Why is this important? In Islam you have a law called the law of Abrogation. When the prophet Mohammed was alive, he said things that “seemed” to go against other things he had previously said, and so his followers wanting to be true inquired about this, and thus was developed the law of Abrogation, whatever was previously said was abrogated (over ruled) by the new teaching. The Hadiths are a large set of books, similar in size to an Encyclopedia set, that tell the order of events. The verses in the Quran that speak of peace and being nice to others are abrogated by the later chronologically verses that speak about kill the infidel. Because of this, some Muslims try to distance themselves from the Hadiths and say they only follow the Quran, but this is not true because it is the Hadiths that tell you how to pray, and instruct on these matters. One could not even follow the most basic of tenets of Islam without the Hadiths. Most Muslims throughout the world do not own, and have not read the Hadiths, thus they are at the mercy of their Imam to instruct them.
    Furthermore, while most religious beliefs abhor deception and lying, in Islam you have a doctrine called Al-taqiyya. In this doctrine it is permitted to deceive people, especially infidels, but even sometimes fellow Muslims if it will further Islam.
    So the world says things like “moderate Muslims need to speak against more radical Muslims” and other such nonsense and it never happens. Even if it did happen it would just be to deceive us, and the reason they don’t is because the “radical” (as the politically correct west likes to put it) interpretation of Islam and the Quran is the correct interpretation.
    Unlike many religious beliefs, like the Christian Bible that says it is of no private interpretation, and thus free to be interpreted differently by different people, or Buddhism which says you have to find your own path, Islam has a specific way it is intended to be interpreted and has been for the last thousand years. This is why Islam will never truly assimilate itself to other cultures and there will always be radical groups that are allowed by “moderates” to exist.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  17. JUSTICETO ALL

    Many here write about European racisms as if Islamic countries are not racists.
    Well let’s see In Saudi Arabia you cannot be a Christian and a citizen. If you convert to Christianity you are executed.
    In Darfur 500 thousand and counting have been murdered in Genocide and ALL AND EVERY ONE of the Islamic countries has continuously blocked any UN investigation. Idi Amen murdered 500 thousand Christians in Uganda and Islamic country gave him asylum for his “good” deed.
    I could continue for hours. The bottom line is Europe nor is any country is perfect. However, the Islamic countries are 1 million times more racist then any group of countries around the world.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  18. Latoya

    Muslims are a national security risk to any nation that allows them in. I know because I am from a muslim country. In Nigeria a Senator fifty something year old muslim senator has married a 13yr old girl, defying the child right act and the muslims there are supporting him claiming its their Islamic right to practice peadophilia. Civilisation is built on tolerance. To live in a first world country today you must know how to laugh when someone calls you names. Muslims have refused to be tolerant. Before they kill us, let us restrict their movement into our societies. This is a serious issue.

    June 10, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  19. John AZ

    Wow, how messed up is this. Alot of far right wing parties came to power in Europe in the early 20th century by blaming a poor economy and wars on the Jews of Europe. Now the same thing is happening, but its gonna be the economy and terrorism. The solution to fight radical Islam is NOT to become just as radical. This is going to get out of hand.

    June 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • Sanity

      Not really.

      I think the parallels between then and now are superficial, at best. There is increased radicalization of Muslims across Europe. Combine this with their growing numbers and Europeans have a legitimate concern. I'll say it yet again, Islamic beliefs cannot be reconciled with democratic principles and a belief in equality. Equality for women, gays, and people of other faiths. The struggle in some parts of the world has also turned racial (Sudan). You simply cannot reconcile them without giving up something in one or the other.

      June 10, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • agree

      yes it is messed up. but there is no persecution the way you paint it. your characterization is more dangerous since it trivializes the real concerns of the people who voted for Wilders. concerns you seem nothing to know about. nothing is as simple as it seems. yes it should not be this way in this day and age but it is what it is. sometimes people should simply stand up for what they think is right. what do you want them to do? just sit back and watch? but don't worry. political correctness will rule and Wilders will be isolated by other political parties. He will say stupid things and that will be the end of that. I hope the problem goes away by itself.

      June 10, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  20. LLB

    I don't appreciate the Muslim nation demanding I convert or else. I don't appreciate any religion forcing me to believe what they believe. I have a mind of my own, and I will make my own decisions. Not by force, but by my own thinking processes. I have turned to the Pagan faith, because as I see it, this particular path is non-violent (harm none) and allows people to believe as they see fit. It leaves the individual in charge of their own actions, and leaves to them the responsibility of behavior. So Mote It Be!

    June 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
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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.