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. Joel

    "Far right parties such as Wilders'" If Wilders party is far right, what does that make Islam? If I understand "right wing" to mean totalitarian rule or complete government control then Ms. Turner needs to redefine her terms. Look at every nation where Islam is dominant and there is totalitarian rule and suppression of free speech. Muslims are free to communicate their position in the western world but when that position threatens the right of others to express theirs that is true "right wing". Westerners cannot freely express their worldviews in an Islamic society.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  2. Bubba Schmo

    Muhammad was an orphaned kid raised by his uncle. He was a former salesman and sheep herder, who went to a cave while in his 20s and had hallucinations. Man, that sounds lke me in the 60's!!

    June 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  3. Jeekers

    Islam was created for the purpose of conquest and political domination. Good for the Dutch. Make these people assimilate or leave.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  4. Lynn

    Muslims do not adapt. In my area, we have to change for them and I do resent that. My biggest complaint is the calling to prayer in some Michigan cities. This is done 5 times a day and is nauseating!!! It can be heard up to a mile away. I could take a picture of this area and tell you I was in the middle east and you would believe me.

    June 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
  5. WinterClover

    There is a difference in being Anti-Muslim and Pro-Dutch. They are trying to make their country better and being pro-active. The Islamic laws that these Muslims are demanding the countries they immigrate to follow are not condusive to a healthy western country. I appluad these Eurpoean countries for making it clear that if you immigrate that you are expected to make an effort to assimilate. Currently assimilation is not being practiced by the musilm community, instead they are attempting to take over other countries with their dogma and silly laws.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  6. QMAX1234

    Dutch Muslims should be worried. Now they won't be able to mob and take over Holland. In the Quran we find this:

    And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. THEY IMITATE THE SAYING OF THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE OF OLD. ALLAH (HIMSELF) FIGHTETH AGAINST THEM (Arabic: qaatalahumu llahu anna yu'fakoona– Literally-May Allah KILL THEM) . HOW PERVERSE ARE THEY! S. 9:30

    While in the Hadith we find this:

    Narrated 'Aisha and 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:

    When the last moment of the life of Allah's Apostle came he started putting his 'Khamisa' on his face and when he felt hot and short of breath he took it off his face and said, "MAY ALLAH CURSE THE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets." The Prophet was warning (Muslims) of what those had done. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 427)

    The Anti-Muslim party should stay in power or Holland would turn into another Islamic Sharia ruled country.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • voxoreason

      Thank you QMAX for the clarification of the point I was trying to make.

      This truly not a 'religion of peace' but an Obsession of conquest.

      June 14, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  7. voxoreason

    Islam teaches: convert or die. It's in the Koran, look it up.
    The law of sharia or however you spell it is bs and in Holland, groups of islamic thugs gang together and harass women on ther way to work when they are not wearing a headscarf. Some women are taking to the scarf just to avoid the crap just so they can get to work.
    That is WRONG. Like it, don't like it, doesn't matter. Just is. Hurray for Holland to not put up with it.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  8. Jeekers

    How does a Muslim condem terrorism?? Invariably, they say, "Terrorism is bad. Killing is so bad. That innocent people die is so sad, BUT... it is understandable because Muslims suffer soooo much around the world. How else should they react??" Getting tired of this backward, medeival, misogynistic people.

    June 14, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  9. why

    so many stupit people here, its unbeliavalble....and very very sad!! CNN what have you become?

    June 14, 2010 at 6:15 am |
  10. pango

    In every corner on earth where there is trouble, look and who is behind it? islams. these are nothing but trouble. they are very intolerant and are well known haters. they hate Everyone who is not of their religion. If one of them kills a non-islam and dies in the process, he gets 72 virgins! this is the only religion that rewards killing! People are now realizing what kind of religion this is, and they are acting to protect themselves. I wonder when America finally wakes up and stop being politically correct.

    June 14, 2010 at 3:14 am |
  11. OmegaMann

    More CNN propaganda!
    Notice how the article doesn't mention the massive problems Islam brings to the West?
    Instead it is all about trying to create 'white guilt'.
    CNN sux...

    June 14, 2010 at 2:04 am |
  12. Jules

    tsk tsk....the world is sick of dealing with muslum demands and expectations. We understand that jihad is to kill the infidel(those of us not muslum)....In the end it is going to come down to muslum and non muslum so pick a damn side!

    June 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  13. Commander

    So let me get this strait, Mr. Wilders is going on trial for his speech? How far has a society sunk when speech is not only censored but a person goes to trial? Maybe the Dutch are tired of Mulism assasination and intimdation. Maybe the Dutch are tired of seeing their culture diluted by Muslims that do no respect their history and seek to replace it with Islamic society.

    June 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Rational Thinker

      Do not underestimate the money power of the midle east countries, Al Waleed bin talal the saudi prince has bought second largest shares into Fox News and may also hold indirect funds in major News networks like CNN or BBC who knows, he has officially stated that muslims must engage the west with media cause in a democratic society media can change the power dynamics in favour of islam... it is well known that he ordered Fox news to muffle the word "muslim riot" to just "street riot" when muslims were showing what they do best in France :)... best of luck

      June 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  14. chewie

    Hey Dutch Friends. You are not being unfair. I have traveled to many countries and have run into the same problems with muslims in most countries that your country is having. Crime-unemployment-abuse of welfare system(they think if we are stupid enough to give them free food, money and a place to live then they can spend their time enjoying the fruits of everyone elses labor) All the while trying to change our countries into their way of life. Most of them left the own country because theey did not like it didn't want to work and then came to ours and now want us to look be like the country they abandon. creeps.

    June 13, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  15. you do not own jesus

    This is not an issue of racism or religion. European cultures have the inherent right, as do any other homegrown culture, to protect it's roots, identity and history. It does not mean there is a call to genocide and deportation going on here. Perhaps immigrants, whether in the EU or North America should start learning hte value of assimilation, as my ancestors yearned to do...become part of the greater whole.

    June 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  16. Dante

    Hello CNN p.c. censors....I ask a simple question that you have no right to ban: Name one group that is more despised wherever they immigrate? That is a fair, and factual question; are you people so politically correct that you cannot allow basic free speech? How Orwellian....

    June 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • MeganColorado

      You tell 'em, Dante! You are obviously not PC enough for the our sponsor.

      June 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  17. Peter

    Doesn't surprise me at all – major cities in Holland have been terrorized for decades by gangs of Moroccon youths. Everyone has their own story about being beaten up, stabbed or robbed (whether personally or some friend / family member). Of all people getting in trouble with the law a disproportionate amount of them are from Maroc or the Antilles (any beat cop can confirm this). Many of them are second or even third generation immigrant, but they refuse to obey basic rules of law and order. Certainly not all; but enough to make them stand out in a negative way. People are sick and tired of it, and cast their vote for the one guy who is vocal in his desire to turn the tide (and who is being prosecuted for voicing his opinion to add insult to injury). Holland's been an immigrant country for century, from the Portuguese Jews to people from former colony Indonesia. The vast majority are not causing issues, but unfortunately some are.

    June 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  18. infidel

    muslims never assimilate, they infiltrate and use the laws against their enemyto provide protection and cover for their plan of conquest. when they become the majority, they enact sharia law on everyone. look at history and see how many countries esp in africa and asia that were never muslim are now under muslim control.

    June 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  19. Reality

    Another reason for the Dutch to vote for the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom

    From Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel:

    "Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating."

    June 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  20. Jason

    All it takes is one thing, one traumatic impact to begin twisting a group of people into a monster someone feels they need to abuse and step on to get ahead in life. Once we as a species learn that God is either hot here anymore or never was in the first place, we can get over ourselves and truly realize how insignificant we are. One day, our kind will be gone, wiped from existence by ourselves. And there won't be anything that would notice or care.

    June 13, 2010 at 1:39 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.