Third report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Netherlands has mentioned that the number of manifestation of anti-semitism is reported to have fluctuated since ECRI’s second report. It reached the highest peak in the period of 2002-2004 and an increased on the most serious manifestations (physical violence and threat of violence) with totalled nine cases since registered in 2005 (ECRI, 2008, 3)
As the Council of Europe antiracism body, ECRI is concerned by the continuing climate of hostility toward persons who are Muslim or are perceived to be Muslim, and deplores the fact that Islamophobia continues to manifest itself in different guises within European societies. ECRI raised concern about the problem of discrimination and violence against Muslims in individual country reports as well as its annual report.
The country report has been made the European Commission to monitor the ongoing activities of its citizens including its minority communities. From the ECRI’s last report, Islamophobia is reported to have increased dramatically in the Netherlands. It was mostly highlighted on how national and international events have been at the origins of a shift in the public debate that has had a deeply negative impact on the situation of and on public perception about, the member of minority groups.
ECRI stressed that Muslims are the minority group that appears to have been affected the most by these events. Furthermore, Muslims of the Netherlands have been subject of stereotyping, stigmatizing, and sometimes outright racist political discourse and of biased media portrayal and have been disproportionately targeted by security and other politics. The Muslims have been the victims of racist violence and other racist crimes and have experienced discrimination.
Netherlands itself is home to approximately one million Muslims which represent about 6 percents of total Dutch population. Moroccan and Turkish Muslim origins account for about two third of the total Muslim population. The rest is essentially made up of Surinamese Muslims and since 1990s, refuges and asylum seekers coming mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Since the international event such as 11 September 2001, the Netherlands witnessed a sharp rise in racist violence and other racist crimes essentially targeted at its Muslim population. The violence directed not only against individual but also directed against property, including attack on mosque and Islamic schools and violence against shops owned by Muslim persons. Racist graffiti also often appeared on these establishments. Reports on racist insults in the street, on public transport, and during sport events rose dramatically around that time and leaflet expressing anti Muslim sentiments appeared in many places in Netherlands.
Global fight against terrorism has deep impact to Netherlands also. An outspoken, charismatic, and controversial right wing politician named Pim Fortuyn had announced on the matters of immigration and integration of Muslim in Netherlands. Fortuyn remarks on Muslim religious backwardness had brought him into death in 2002 by an environmentalist activist named Volkert de Graaf.
The growing of anti Muslim in Netherlands on a national level has been started in November 2004 by the murder of Theo van Gogh. He was a Dutch man with Moroccan parentage and a controversial film maker. The attacker said that the killing was a response toward a film about Islam and domestic violence that Van Gogh had made with the Somalian-born activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The film has showed the images of naked veiled women with lines from the Qoran projected over them.
The numbers of policies that directly or indirectly targeting Muslims have been discussed in Netherlands. The recent debate concerned the need for the holders of certain public functions to renounce their non-Dutch nationality. The proposal was introduced by PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid) or Freedom Party, a right wing political party led by Geert Wilders, following the appointment on November 2006. Two Secretary of State holders respectively, Nebahat Albayrak and Ahmed Aboutaleb, are Moroccan and Turkish passports in addition to their Dutch ones. Without an apparent of concrete reason, a debate was started in Dutch society concerning the link between citizenship and loyalty to the State, which has contributed to further polarize positions and communities.
ECRI considers that in a widely discussed proposal that finally not adopted to introduce a ban of wearing of burkas and niqabs in public. It has increased the feelings of victimization, stigmatization, and alienation among Muslims and raised once again majority and minority communities against each other. ECRI has reported that the proposed ban have opened new opportunities for further discrimination or exclusion of Muslim women generally in everyday life.
Furthermore, Geert Wilders announced in November 2007 that his film, Fitna, will show the violent and fascist elements of Muslim faith. Later on in February 2008, Wilder said that if the Muslims still want to stay in Netherlands then they should tear out half of the Qoran and throw it away. On the Parliament he called for the Qoran ban and called the Qoran as Hitler’s Mein Kampf. However his proposal was rejected.
Meanwhile, no public television channels would broadcast his film because of the conduct of public areas such as television channels would represent state’s recognition. The quest on Geert Wilders’s has still in mind of many Muslim communities in Netherlands. However, at Friday, March 28th, 2008 is the day when the movie can be seen through the internet at www.liveleak.com. (Emilia Yustiningrum)