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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. jack h.

    to mr WHY am i so ignorant. i have been to many differnt countries and know about alot of different cultures and customs. but i never heard about what you say about hindu. but since you are probably a muslim, i know that most muslims are insulted if you touch them with your left hand. because that is the hand they use to wipe their butt and that is without toilet paper. then they use sand or dirt to clean off the sh+t from thier left hand. thats why if you are caught stealing, under sharia you have your left hand cut off making you unclean because you must use the right hand to wipe your butt. tell me, doesn't that also make the right hand unclean since you have to use your right hand to clean the left?

    June 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  2. jack h.

    to anyone who thinks someone is possibly a muslim. one clue: MUSLIMS SMELL VERY, VERY, BAD. EVEN IN WESTERN COUNTRIES. maybe it is their culture where in the desert there is not enough water to bathe, you must conserve it only to drink. but that is not true in western countries. you can take a shower for 3 hours if you want to and nobody will complain about the water you wasted. maybe things like soap, water, tooth paste, mouth wash, deorderant, and colone are as dangerous to muslims as kryptonite is to superman because muslims have a great fear for these things. christains believe that cleanliness is close to godliness. maybe in the koran it says the opposite? but then if you believe in someone like allah who probably is SATAN, then you most likely would want to smell like death, rotting flesh, or sulfer andd brimstone.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • why?

      Hey clean western man. Do you know that in far east- some Hindu people wash their hands after they shake hands with westen people? Its not provoking like your comment, but truth , check it with some Monks. If you know any monks- which I doubt, because if you would know anything different out of your small world you would certainly not talk like that. Stay in your own small self esteem world. Jack Horrible

      June 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Holy Grail

      "@Why" This is an outrageous lie, Hindus would never do what you say mr "why" .
      Hindus have respected every religion, we have given asylum to Dalai Lama the Tibetian Buddhists , Zoroastrians from persia who were persecuted by muslims, the Jains , Sikhs , Christians, Jews and over 150 million muslims live in India.
      Unfortunately over 1000 years of exposure to Islam has made some segments of our society violent specially towards muslims, cause Hindus have been mercilessly butchered in lots of religious riots by muslims, its pay back time buddy... Muslims in India refuse to sing the national anthem of our country can you believe that?? I hope we could have another division of India and this time we would get rid of the muslims once and for all... Way to go Dutch People , in just 20-30 years you have found the true nature of Islam..its not late..fight it or you will become history

      June 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
    • SR

      Hey Jack and others:
      Please do not stoop to their level. There is anough dirt in the Qur'an that we don't have to worry about the dirt in someone's body. Thiis will result in charges of Racism and Xenophobia on this blog. You are giving all of those fighting Islam rationally a bad name. Please understand this.

      August 22, 2010 at 8:16 am |
  3. bob

    The Muslims act so surprised! They kill and complain, want to take over a country because they hate the culture that is already there, and they can't understand why people don't like them. Of course they really do understand, it is just part of their act of pretending to be innocent. "Little old me kill and chop your head off???" Throw them out of your country to save yourselves!! Start a civil war if you have to, it will be worth it; If you don't you will be taken over.

    June 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • complete oposite of bob

      hey Bob, you dont sound Dutch at all. I am glad to know there is more people like Robbin (who commented here) in the Nederlands than those like you. You sound veryyyyy much brain washed. Go and feed your brain man. Little by little feed it and noone will complain. Or your are one lazy ass full of hate ???

      June 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  4. Nelson

    Geert Wilders is a threat to the humanity with his policy against everyone living in the Netherlands who does not have the European Dutch passport , including the overseas territories The Dutch Caribbean, Aruba, Curacao and St.Martin, who have the Dutch passport but is not considered by Wilders as real Dutch,
    Would suggest CNN national and International to try to obtain an interview with this person and let him explained his ideas against Islam and all the other ethnic people living and working legally in Holland. Also very important is the way he planned to register all not born in Holland. Sound familiar? Go back in the European history and you'll find some familiarity with the ?

    June 13, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  5. Robbin Banks

    and for the serious part, this man is total crazy, he wants ethnic registrations, forbid the Koran, forbid mosque, and the main foreign policy should be war against islam. It´s all against UN laws ect, it will never happen. When any such thing comes into practice in NL than we will fight in the streets, but for humanrights not against islam.

    June 13, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  6. Robbin Banks

    Well, the case is that we live peacefully with about 10% muslims, and that´s not a real problem. The people who voted for this rasisct mostly are coming from little towns and villages, who has never seen a muslim in real life than on tv. In the bigger towns with a more mixed population he didn´t get this much votes, except for the southern part of the country. Believe me, you can come visit and you will be safe, there is no fighting here in the streets here with AK-47s with the muslim population. No no, the muslim might even run a coffeeshop, and we can relax together with the best grasses that are available overhere. Peace, j

    June 13, 2010 at 8:39 am |
    • Tolerant but not Stupid

      Mr Robbin Banks should be deported to Saudi Arabia and Morroco to fight for human rights there 🙂 without getting his hands or head chopped off :)..

      June 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  7. Dusty

    The bottom line is that many Arabs, along with numerous other ethnic groups, ARE NOT assimilating to the cultures of the countries in which they live. Learn the language, adapt, utilize our form of government, or go home. It is as simple as that.

    June 13, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  8. Patriot in West(by God) Virginia

    Maybe most muslims aren't extreme radicals, but the radical extremist are getting thier $$$$ from a lot of so called conservative muslims. And in this day and age of facial recognition programs and terror activity, I'm all for banning these scarves an other items that could be used the hide behind.

    June 13, 2010 at 4:21 am |
  9. I am not afraid of you stupit people

    All of you who make this negative comments on Muslims, think about 1993 and Bosnia and war there. Think of Srebrenica you europeans and defenders of "rights and truth". There is no any good in violence- any kind. Once it starts it eats you up and your children and your future. And it always starts with story telling, hate, and media. Not all Muslims have same culture, not all Christians have same culture either. First of all, all those Muslim imigrants across Europe (youre blaming on) came to your countries because they have been alowed to, and they have been welcomed by your governemnt becaue they have been good workers, good engineers, and not to forget EU needed working class- and not everyone Imigrant is Muslim- and dont forget that there are many EU citizens imirgatnts across world... You are talking here about 2 thinks. One is economy and fear strategies of governemnets to achieve its goals (once you need you use, then when you dont need you attack) – and 2 think is use of completely uneducated people to create mass movements (according to history almost every mass movement was violend, destructive and did not last long). When I say educated, I dont mean some university credits, big time schools or so, I mean uneducated for your own neighbour!!!You live beside them, house next to house and you dont know them. He/she pays taxes in your country and you use it like he uses yours and you dont know them at all!!! You share same country land, same food, same air- and you dont know them. If all those Muslims you blame wanted violence and war, they would stay in their countries and have war!They escapped madness because they didnt want war. And extremists exist in every culture and religion and extremism is not accepted in Islam, learn, read, talk to people- see how glad they will be to tell you truth- see surprise in their eyes, they would give you hart if they can. But no, you hear one stupit wilders to teach you what is someone a like. Aint it so stupit. This comments made me so angry (especially after experiencing war in my country and knowing what mass media and stupit politicians can do- and how many stupit people are in general) that I wish all (so called) "foreigners" would left Europe- and that only native citizens are left (especially those who woted for stupit wilders and share his opinion). I wish to see that really, who would be left, who would work, where would you eat and what would you eat!!! This only shows that more comfort life gives to humans, he/she becomes more stupit...Once again, those who comment so negative think of all "your" companies across world, money being earned, food you eat, products you use, countries where your rich people have big properties and go for hollidays and so one. Especially Dutch should think of that. I bet that those who woted for stupit wilders party- have no clue of this thinks and think that God gave them all that economically strong country because they are speciall...Shhhhh.

    June 13, 2010 at 4:19 am |
  10. JFH

    it is wrong to generalize about any group. To say muslims have not condemned terrorism and act of violence is not the truth. Muslim groups always condemn terrorism and imams all over the world do it all the time. To say muslims want sharia law is also not the truth, only 3 muslims coutries use sharia law, which makes 90% of the muslim coutries secular. Muslims in general have conservative life style and values but not fundamental or radical. only tiny number of muslims have radical and extreme beliefs. Most muslims do not agree and often condemn the extremists. Muslims countries are the first target for these groups, and the vast majority of their victims are muslims and not non-muslims. Muslims in America are hard working, honest, freedom loving people, who want to live in peace and contribute to the greatness of this country, I know many muslims and everyone I know fits that description. I know of no muslim who hates America and want to engage in violence. It is wrong to paint all muslims with one paint brush. Most of you who have fear of Islam and muslims are influenced by the media which is anti-muslim, or you are just not tolerent of anyone who is different than you. It is muslims today and It used to be Jews and blacks and it will be another group in the future.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  11. TonyInLargo

    We should explicitly ban "Sharia Law" and the use of Burqas in the USA period. The problem with the so called moderate Muslims is that they do not protest and criticize the extreme idiots within their own religion. So, it is my opinion, that they don't deserve any support. I also do not want to ever be forced out of my neighborhood, which if anyone has any doubt, that is exactly what they do. I happen to know people from Nigeria, who have both Christian and Muslims kin folk and they will be the first ones to tell you that, that's exactly what they do. Muslims: you need to learn to act like and learn to live among civilized people.

    June 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  12. Reality

    "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."

    Whatever, I think that ship has sailed dude. Just ask any American.

    How do we get this party in the United States? If we can rid our nation of this evil religion maybe we can get some of the other hate-mongering religions we have to put up with under control. I'm sorry folks but your "freedom of religion" ends where my civil rights as an American Citizen begin. Period.

    June 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  13. Terry

    Gee, what a surprise to know that some people are worried about this particular brand of religion.

    June 12, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  14. Atheist

    Yes boocat, the problem is with 'belief' and 'faith'. Any and all kinds. It makes people stupid, even if they had a decent brain to start with. Plus religions force people to stay stupid, damning all education or books that may question them. If they didn't. they would lose too many of the suckers that follow them and finance them. In the end sucking the people dry economically is what it's all about.
    The reason Muslims are doing so well is, because they keep their members more stupid (uneducated) than anyone else.
    By also punishing them for following any entertainment, music, TV, videos you name it, they make their followers totally willing to commit suicide at a young age. Would YOU want to live like that?? 😉
    And then they promise them 72 virgins when they get to their non existent heaven. First of all, virgins? Give me a break. After having been into screwing chickens, sheep, goats and donkeys (as long as they are females!!!). Yea, Islam allows that but is intolerant of them buggering male animals. How idiotic does any religion have to be for people to recognize and avoid it?
    Finally, Muslims still bellyache about the crusades. Don't any of these idiots know that these were the reaction to them coming to the west and trying to inculcate people their with their new idiocy? These people had their own idiocy already, thank you (called Christianity)! And reacted by going to where the Muslims came from to give them something they would understand... which over time obviously got lost on them. So they are coming back for a second helping now?
    Human insanity

    June 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  15. Total non sense

    From What i am reading here, there is really not a lot of peoples who actually like Muslims (and with good reasons). So why peoples (mulsims) who are hated by EVERYONE, still insist on imigrating (illegally) in north america? What will it take to get them to leace? Kick a muslim butt day? ho.. wait... they already invaded the white house.....

    June 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  16. Carole Clarke

    The Netherlands followed the lead of Great Britain in allowing immigration from it's former colonies to the home country. It was thought that was only fair. But too many of the immigrants from Moslem countries have turned out to be snakes in the grass. Britain is now plagued by men of Pakistani descent and the Netherlands by those from it's old colonies in Indonesia. They have formented dissent among the native Britons and Dutch who have lived there for a thousand years, presumably to get even for the years of exploitation and to further Islam around the world. They take advantage of our polite manners and immediately start trying to change our laws to suit their religion. It was only a matter of time before a revolt sprang up. Britain will follow the Netherlands' lead this time and it will spread to other countries where the Moslems have not been good guests but have tried to subvert the native culture. Then it will come to America and you will see Moslems leaving in droves to go back to their countries of origin. It's not that they do not fit in here – they do not WANT to fit in.

    June 12, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  17. flycatcher

    in my opinion the only reason Muslims migrate is to spread their religion, since there religion inhibits modern ideals they should stay in their own Muslim lands and if they wish to have the freedoms of Western nations then they should work towards that in there own countries. We in Western Nations do not want our freedoms taken away buy power crazed clerics spewing religious garbage and jihad. Stay home and wear your towels and oppressive clothing, mistreat your woman there, cut off the heads of your own people there we do not want any part of it.

    June 12, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  18. About time

    Nice to see the Dutch are finally becoming aware of the Islamic threat to their society. Who knows, maybe they will start prosecuting murderers (ala Van Der Sloot) next.

    June 12, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  19. John Richardson

    Geert Wilders is obviously a world class jerk. But the fact that he is up on charges for, among other things, making a movie suggests that there IS reason to be fearful that freedom is being eroded in the "once tolerant" Netherlands. The worst way to deal with people like Wilders is to allow them of all people to be martyrs for free speech. The Dutch are screwing this up on multiple levels.

    June 12, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  20. Thorrsman

    If the Dutch Muslims are worried that they are no longer welcome, who, exactly was it that MADE the Dutch people less than welcoming to Muslims, eh?

    June 12, 2010 at 9:13 am |
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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.