Political Games & Muslims in
What is your estimation to the status of Muslims in The Netherlands?
In the first
part, Mr. Bertus Hendriks gave a brief summary of the historical background
of Muslimsí existence in
Pim Fortuyn, late candidate in the Dutch Parliament, tried to change the multi-cultural nature of the Dutch society by assuming that it has created economic problems in the state. But at that time such racist ideas were totally rejected and so was he. The main reason behind this reaction was that the Dutch were proud of being a multi-cultural society. Consequently, Fortuyn did not get much support.
But problems kept growing. And there were people sensitive to Fortuyn's radical message, who also believed that Muslims have many restrictions in their religion especially about women and homosexuality. All this has led to an uncomforted state for the country's citizens. This idea was stressed when an imam said that all homosexuals must be thrown from the top of a big tower, this kind of statement created a storm. Since people are ignorant of Islam, they associate everything extreme to Islam.
In fact, there are many traditional-related views that are always attributed to Islam leading finally to antagonistic attitudes. A famous example of this is the tradition of female circumcision. It is true that this is a very old African habit, but many people donít know that especially because many Muslim women wrongly practice it on Islamic basis. Yet Islam has nothing to do with it. As a result, most of the European countries see Islam as backward.
After a while, Pim Fortuyn's
ideas gained grounds and he finally got votes in the municipal's election. In
this gloomy atmosphere came September the 11th, that was really a watershed.
This was accompanied by the Palestinian struggle, the suicidal bombs, Osama bin
Laden, who portrays himself as the leader of Muslims. Moreover, there were the
combination of the Jihad's activities, the bombings in
Politicians knew then that raising hatred towards Islam is the best way to win votes.
All those incidents paved the way for fear which "is a bad councilor". This atmosphere was stressed by the views of ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch feminist, writer and politician, who said that the problem lies in Islam. She is a very successful immigrant, that's why her views are very influential, including those about Islam. She has a prestigious position in the Dutch society; none can deny that this has contributed to the general atmosphere of fear of Islam.
The parliament election system in
Convince and Win
If the party is able to convince the public in the election campaign, through media, that it has a solution, and it has got many votes, this means that this party will become a big one. That happened with Pim Fortuyn, before he was killed, he was heavily favored by the public as he was a good speaker, and was pointing to some real problems. Fortuyn used to say, "the big Dutch parties donít want to admit that we have problems; they stick to the concept of multi-cultural community, accusing the poor that they are backward and racist for they accuse the foreigners with the economic crisis in the country."
After the success that Pim Fortuyn had, big parties no longer ignored the claims of the public. So the new strategy was to agree that the Muslim minority might represent a problem, but that there are other right solutions far from rejecting them.
In fact, those parties' fear increased with the rise of the new inclination by Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, as he was dominating the stage. Those parties were really afraid that attacking Wilders' views would give him more popularity. In addition, they have some weak points represented in the lack of direct visible solutions.
On the other hand, Wilders has a simple clear message: all the blame goes to those Muslims who refuse to integrate, refuse to learn Dutch, and they go to Islamic schools (less modern sciences, maths, and science, much studying of the Qura'n which the Dutch think is full of backward ideas).
Wilders argument against Muslims is based on the fact that the main source for Muslims is the Holy Qura'n which gives them instructions for their life and religion. He assumes that Muslims cannot be integrated, they take their book literally. He provokes people by saying that the Dutch should not want Muslims to integrate "because we donít want to compromise our own values."
Moreover, there are some Muslims
who say, "had Prophet Mohamed, (PBUH), lived in a different era; the
Qura'n would have been different. Those assume that it is all about the message
to be received. The message should not be taken literally; you have to see the
text in its context.
After Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh were killed, not only the poor people but also the intellectuals started to move towards Wilders's direction,. This added greatly to his growing political influence.
I'm very worried about this trend because it is getting bigger.
When Fitna movie was released, it didnít get much attention or consideration from the public, and the government did a good job declaring that it does was not share the views of Wilders. Though the government was unable to stopping that movie from getting more spread, it advised Muslims to go to the court, and they did.
First, Muslims lost in court, for the judge said that the freedom of expression is the quintessence of freedom of religion. He added that as the Muslims can practice their faith without any interference from the government, everybody is also free to criticize, and we cannot forbid this. Then Muslims went into an appeal, in which the judge said that the prosecution shall proceed. Though this does not mean that Wilders will be condemned, but at least a higher court shall decide in the matter. Having reached that stage, Wilders's supporters shut up.
In fact, there is no easy
solution to this kind of Islamic dilemma, but at the same time I see it as a
temporary phenomenon, I think we will witness the emergence of a European
All this gives me an impression
that things are going very well. Yet we have to admit that this stage
represents a painful transition. I can strongly compare the state of Muslims in
the European countries to the state of the Jews in
If we just replace some words
with others like the word Rabbis with Imams, Jews with Muslims, then we can
reach the same conclusion that we can see now in
Finally, we have to say that adaptation now passes through a very
difficult phase, yet the rise of the new version of European Muslims will soon
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