Archive for Netherlands

Geert Wilders and Islamophobia in the US—on their way out?

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by loonwatch

We speculated that Wilders star was fading in Europe and that he will try to cash in on the anti-Islam buzz in the USA amongst the “fanatical anti-Islam movement.”

Geert Wilders and Islamophobia in the US—on their way out?

Published on : 30 April 2012 – 8:00am | By John Tyler (Photo: Freefoto.com)

Geert Wilders’ autobiographical book Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me will be presented in New York on Tuesday. Will his message against Islam and the West’s alleged “Islamification” still resonate in the United States? Here in the Netherlands this week’s political upheaval has seriously dented his influence.

Now that Wilders has disqualified himself from governing, relegating his party to opposition status, his political future here is limited. Even if his Freedom Party emerged as the largest in September’s elections, he would find it difficult, if not impossible, to find any coalition partners. No other party will be eager to work with a politician who has proved so unreliable.

So where does a savvy Islam-basher turn when he is down on his luck? To the United States, of course. Following her stint in Dutch politics, Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali embarked on a successful career as Islam-critic in the US. There is speculation that Wilders may follow her example.

Frequent flyer

Wilders is no stranger to American shores. He has travelled there frequently, raising money and giving lectures. He most famously gave a speech in New York in the autumn of 2010 opposing the building of a Muslim Centre a few blocks from Ground Zero. The protest against the centre gave Wilders a platform for his message against Islam. He said New York “must defend itself against the powers of darkness, the force of hatred and the blight of ignorance. …This means we must not give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us.” His speech received broad coverage in the American press.

Changed attitudes 
Two years later, however, Wilders will find that attitudes in the US have changed. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been fading. A Gallup poll released in the summer of 2011 showed that Muslims, while still facing discrimination, are more confident about their future than any other group in the US. The standard of living among Muslims is improving faster than among other groups.

Gallup researcher Mohamed Younis: “The debate about Islam flares up when something happens, but the last couple of years have been pretty quiet and the public’s interest has waned. Wilders will have a hard time selling his book right now.”

There is more evidence that the attitude toward Muslims in the US is softening. The most outspoken anti-Islam candidates in the Republican presidential primaries did not do well. Mitt Romney, who is all but certain to win the Republican nomination, is known for his moderate views on American Muslims.

As for entertainment, a reality programme called “All-American Muslim” was cancelled, not because it generated a small controversy, but because it failed to attract viewers. People were bored by the premise that Muslims were everyday, normal Americans, and the show got poor ratings. And the New York Muslim Centre Wilders tried to block is going ahead, albeit in a more modest form. The protests have petered out.

Fringe element
American opinion toward Islam may be evolving, but there’s still an energetic minority of writers and bloggers who continue to warn of the imminent danger that Islam allegedly poses to the US. The small publishing house which is bringing out Wilders’ book is a driving force in such circles.

Regnery Publishing specialises in far-right conspiracy theories and scare-mongering. Books currently featured on the website include: Fast and Furious: Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up,Secret Weapon: How Economic Terrorism Brought Down the U.S. Stock Market and Why It Can Happen Again, and After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

The author of the last work, Mark Steyn, a fervently anti-Islam journalist from Canada, has written the introduction of Wilders’ new book. Regnery’s head, Marji Ross, says she knows Wilders’ views are seen as extreme, but “that’s what makes the book exciting and bold and newsworthy.”

Judging from the response to review copies of Marked for Death, it fails to fulfil Ms Ross’ expectations. It is reported to be a relatively dry description of how Wilders got to where he is, with hardly anything polemical about it. It also appears to lack the verve of Fitna, his short anti-Islam film of 2008.

Curiously, there is no mention of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who helped elevate Wilders to the powerful position he held for the past 18 months. On the other hand, he refers a few times to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, claiming they think along the same lines.

One reviewer said the book could be considered Wilders’ calling card to America. But in contrast to Hirsi Ali’s books Infidel and Nomad, published by mainstream houses and selling well, Marked for Death is not likely to attract a wide readership outside the fanatical anti-Islam movement.

Deafening silence
When Wilders spoke in parliament earlier this week after bringing down the government, MPs largely ignored him. With one exception, no one bothered to confront him. Apart from a few trusted Islam bashers, the broader public in the US may greet Wilders with the same deafening silence.

(cl)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Support for Geert Wilders’ “Freedom Party” Drops Over Crisis

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

If Geert Wilders’ consistent and prolonged anti-Islam/Muslim diatribes weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If Geert Wilders anti-freedom policies and attacks on civil liberties weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If  Geert Wilders xenophobic fearmongering about Polish and Eastern European immigrants to the Netherlands weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

There’s another reason: The defection of a senior Freedom Party (PVV) MP Hero Brinkman, an ideological counterpart who parted ways with Wilders due to his “autocratic nature” and “unqualified stance against immigration.”

At least that is what polling data seems to be showing:

Geert Wilders support drops over party crisis

The anti-immigration party would now have 21 seats in parliament, three less than the number of seats it won at the last elections, held nearly 18 months ago. MP Hero Brinkman, seen as a key ideologue, left the party earlier this week in protest at Mr Wilders’ autocratic style and unqualified anti-immigrant stance. However, if elections were held now, Mr Brinkman would lack enough support to gain an independent seat, according to the weekly survey.

The minority government of liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte depends on Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party for a majority in parliament. Now that Mr Brinkman has broken ranks with Mr Wilders, the conservative cabinet may have to rely on other parties as well, in particular on the tiny Christian fundamentalist SGP party.

The minority cabinet has already relied on Labour, the Democrats 66 and the Green Left parties for all those policies not supported by Mr Wilders, such as giving financial aid to Greece and bolstering the euro in general.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

We can’t read too much into these sorts of polls, especially when one considers the fickle nature of polling. However, it is significant, in that it exposes not only rifts and cracks in Wilders movement, but also potential fallout.

What remains to be seen is how Wilders and company will react to all this. Will they ignore this trend or just plain dismiss it? Will they become more aggressive and double down? Will they tone down their jingoistic rhetoric?

In the meantime it seems Wilders hatemongering is continuing to have repercussions:

The Polish Wilders Hates Poles

“I don’t just hate the Poles who work in the Netherlands, I hate all Poles” says Geert Wilders.

It’s not the real Wilders, it’s a satirical programme on Polish television. The Freedom Party leader himself hasn’t gone that far. However, his party does have a website where Dutch people can leave their complaints about Eastern European immigrants. It has been stirring up emotions in Poland for weeks, according to our correspondent Ekke Overbeek.

Szymon Majewski is a well-known Polish comedian with a popular show on the country’s biggest commercial station. In front of a backdrop of windmills, ‘Wilders’ begins the sketch by saying good evening in Dutch (goeie avond). The word goeie, however, means something unpleasant in Polish, so the stage is set. He then explains, in Polish, that he hates all Poles because they drink too much.

Another film, posted on YouTube, has an Asian man telling us that all foreigners, even Dutch, are welcome in Poland. Having nearly been run over by foul-mouthed Dutch people on bikes, he invites all Dutch people to come to Poland for the European football championships. “Poles are friendly and helpful. All the ugly, nasty, greedy Poles are over in the Netherlands”. He is joined by the same fake Wilders who says “Holland for the Dutch.”

Jokes about drugs, euthanasia and abortion follow. The final gag: “You may have a world famous Red Light District, but we have something better. Here you get screwed as soon as you step into a taxi at the airport.”

The Freedom Party’s complaints website has regularly made the news in Poland for over a month. The affair drags on because the Dutch government, which owes its parliamentary majority to Geert Wilders’ support, refuses to disown the website. Prime Minister Mark Rutte says it is an initiative by a political party and has nothing to do with his government. He was asked to appear before the European parliament and explain this stance but chose not to go.

The appearance of a Wilders clone on Polish TV shows that the controversy is beginning to affect the Netherlands image abroad. Until recently, most Poles thought of the Netherlands as a tolerant country, with good job prospects. The number of Polish people in the Netherlands is estimated at between 150 and 200 thousand.

(imm)

For those of you who speak Polish (there are no subtitles), here is the second clip:

Hero Brinkman: Defector From Geert Wilders anti-Islam Party Says PVV is Bankrolled by US Supporters

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by loonwatch

Geert Wilders and David Horowitz Freedom Center

Geert Wilders and David Horowitz Freedom Center

Tell us something we didn’t already know (via. Islamophobia-Watch):

Wilders’ anti-Islam party is bankrolled by US supporters, says former MP

American lobbyists make large donations to a foundation set up by the anti-immigration PVV, Hero Brinkman, the MP who left the party on Tuesday, told a television talk show on Tuesday evening.

Brinkman said he could not rule out the money being used to pay for Geert Wilders’ defence on racial hatred charges but declined to comment further on what the money had been spent on. Nor would he comment on the size of the donations.

The PVV is thought to generate significant funding from Israeli and far-right supporters in the US.

Because the PVV has no members, it does not receive government subsidies to run the campaigning side of its operations and relies instead on donations.

Dutch News, 21 March 2012

Brinkman’s allegation about the PVV’s finances confirms what had already been revealed in the Dutch press. Last year Dutch Newsreported that the two main US sources for the PVV’s funding were David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes.

See, We Told You: Geert Wilders Xenophobia is Not Limited to Muslims

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by loonwatch

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

Far-right populist Geert Wilders has made a name for himself through his anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric, and for this reason he is, to quote Robert Spencer, one of the “heroes” of the anti-Muslim movement.

We have consistently pointed out however that Geert Wilders and his allies are not one stop bigots. Behind the “acceptable” attacks on Muslims is hidden a wider xenophobia against ‘the other.’ A bigotry which if not born out of any consistent ideological character is definitely a reflection of the realization that playing on the fears of the majority may lead to positive results at the ballot box.

Wilders and his party, the PVV are riding a wave of popularity through the launch of an anti-Polish/anti-Eastern European website which has been the cause of much controversy and embarrassment in the Netherlands. After launching the site it was reported that the PVV,

would gain 24 seats in parliament if elections were held today, the number of seats the party currently holds, says pollster Maurice de Hond. Geert Wilders’ populist far-right party is the third largest party in the Netherlands.

Wilders’ PVV site displays,

news clippings with bold headlines blaming foreigners for petty crime, noise nuisance – and taking jobs from the Dutch. “Are immigrants from Central and Eastern countries bothering you? We’d like to hear from you,” it says.

The Dutch government has distanced itself from the website but this hasn’t ebbed the disastrous PR that Wilders move has generated.

Besides criticism from ten European ambassadors and the European Commission, the Dutch public has also expressed concerns about possible repercussions. Poles are calling for a boycott of Dutch products.(emphasis mine)

The issue was taken to the European parliament which just yesterday announced its ‘dismay’ and formal response to Wilders most recent populist move:

EP condemns PVV website, exec puts ball in Netherlands’ court

By Gaspard Sebag in Strasbourg | Wednesday 14 March 2012 (Europolitics.info)

Representatives of the political groups in the European Parliament, on 13 March, unanimously called upon the Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, to condemn a website launched by his far-right political ally, the PVV party headed by Geert Wilders. Said website, up since early February, urges Dutch citizens to report problems they experience with nationals of Central and Eastern European countries. “Unacceptable,” “a disgrace,” “scandalous” – said MEPs. The European Commission, for its part, announced it would not get involved from a legal point of view and leaves the responsibility of assessing the lawfulness of the website to the Dutch authorities. A joint parliamentary resolution will be put to the vote, on 15 March (see box).

The EPP, which counts among its ranks the junior partner in the Netherlands’ government, the centre-right CDA, was particularly vocal. “We cannot tolerate, from a party that takes part in a coalition government, a call to hatred against nationals from another member state. That is unacceptable,” said EPP leader Joseph Daul (France).

Despite the fact that Rutte is part of the Liberal political family, ALDE Chair Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) was unequivocal about condemning the “silence” of the Dutch government and the message sent by the website. “My group has nothing but contempt for Mr Wilders’ initiative.” Recalling the need to be even-handed in criticising populist tactics, Verhofstadt lumped together French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Wilders. “I wonder who is the extreme-right wing candidate [in France], is it [Marine] Le Pen or Sarkozy?” he asked.

Reactions from other political group leaders all condemned Rutte’s passivity, whose hands are tied by his need for Wilders’ support, and who thus claims it is not a governmental issue. S&D leader Hannes Swoboda (Austria) called for the website to be closed down. Polish deputy Jacek Kurski (EFD) said Rutte’s lack of reaction is “scandalous”. “The prime minister [of the Netherlands] is not taking up his responsibility,” said Marije Cornelissen (Greens-EFA, Netherlands). “The prime minister ought to have directly condemned this website,” said Peter van Dalen (ECR, Netherlands), adding, however, that the EP holding a debate on this issue is “too much honour” for Wilders.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who had already condemned the PVV website in February, welcomed the comments made in the plenary chamber. “It is unacceptable that EU citizens become target of xenophobic attitudes because they have exercised their right to move from one state to another,” she said. Reding also called upon on the Dutch authorities to “fully investigate the lawfulness of the website under Dutch law and Union law”.

According to Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE-NGL, France), this is not enough. “You continue to refer to member states and their tribunals but I thought that the Commission was the guardian of the treaties, that freedom of circulation and non-discrimination were part of the European values,” she said. “I notice that certain values are more important than others and that in economic matters when the free circulation of goods and capital is concerned, competition barriers the Commission is prompter to condemn,” added Vergiat.

Dutch Parliament Closer to Banning Veil

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by loonwatch
Verhagen and Wilders shake hands

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Dutch government moves step closer to banning veil

The Dutch Cabinet moved a step closer Friday to banning the burqa, making good on an election promise that is largely symbolic but has broad public support.

Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen said the Cabinet agreed on plans to ban the head-to-toe Islamic gown along with other forms of face-covering clothing including ski masks. The legislation must still be approved by both houses of the Dutch Parliament, a process that could take months. “We are confident we have a majority,” Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies said.

Once seen as one of the world’s most tolerant nations, the Netherlands has turned increasingly conservative in recent years and is pushing immigrants more to fully assimilate into mainstream Dutch society. Anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders welcomed the decision in a tweet as “fantastic news.”

Like neighboring Belgium, the Dutch government cited security concerns as a reason for the ban and framed it as a move to safeguard public order and allow all people to “fully participate in society”. “People must be able to look one another in the eye,” Verhagen said.

The Dutch decision came despite criticism of the ban from independent advisory panel the Council of State, which reportedly suggested it could amount to an attack on freedom of religion. Verhagen denied ignoring the advice and said ministers took it into account when laying out the reasons underpinning the legislation. The government is confident that by citing public order concerns, the legislation will not breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Leyla Cakir, head of Muslim women’s organization Al Nisa, said she was surprised and shocked by the decision. “You are taking away women’s right of self-determination, and it is all based on fear,” she said.

But in a statement announcing the decision, the government said it was helping women. “Having to wear a burqa or niqab in public goes against equality of men and women,” the government said. “With this legislation, the Cabinet is removing a barrier to these women participating in society.”

Associated Press, 27 January 2012

See also “Ministers vote for Dutch ‘burqa ban’”, RNW, 27 January 2012

A ban on the veil was part of the deal the VVD and CDA made with Wilders in September 2010, in exchange for his party’s support for their coalition government. However, it would be unfair to accuse Maxime Verhagen of adopting this policy out of mere political expendency. He has a record of Islamophobia going back some years.

Dutch Mosques Defaced 117 Times

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by loonwatch

Dutch mosques defaced 117 times

Between 2005 and 2010 mosques in the Netherlands were defaced 117 times, according to research by social researcher Ineke van der Valk. The acts of vandalism were motivated by a hatred of Islam, the researcher is quoted as saying on VPRO radio programme Argos.

In 43 cases, the mosques were daubed with offensive symbols or slogans. In 37 instances, the mosques sustained material damage. In 99 of the incidents the police failed to find any of the culprits. In the United States there were 42 similar incidents during the same period. Most of the vandalised mosques in the Netherlands are located outside the major cities.

There are some 450 mosques in The Netherlands, which has a population of more than 16.5 million. Some five percent of the population is believed to be Muslim, some 44 percent Christian and over 41 percent agnostic. As a percentage of the population, the Netherlands has Europe’s second-largest Muslim community, inferior only to France, which has a Muslim community of more than nine percent.

(cl)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Anti-Muslim Geert Wilders and Government Ally Opposes Turkish President Visit

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by loonwatch
Geert Wilders

I think it rocks Geert Wilders mind that Turkey and the Netherlands have had a relationship for 400 years.

Dutch anti-Islam politician and government ally opposes Turkish president visit

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, a key ally for the ruling Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition, said on Saturday he opposed a planned visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul because Turkey is an “Islamist regime”.

Wilders, whose party is the third-largest in the Dutch parliament and opposes closer ties between Europe and Turkey, backs the Dutch minority government in return for tougher immigration and integration rules.

Gul has been invited to visit the Netherlands next year, when the two countries will celebrate 400 years of relations.

Wilders said in a commentary in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant that Gul should stay in Ankara.

“There is nothing to celebrate. The Islamist regime of Gul and his party member and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is not a true friend of the West and therefore neither of the Netherlands,” Wilders said.

“Everywhere Erdogan comes, he calls on Turkish immigrants to not adapt. Turkey does not want to become European but wants to islamise Europe,” Wilders said.

While Erdogan heads a political party with roots in political Islam, Turkey is a constitutionally secular democracy.

A Dutch parliamentary committee cancelled a visit to Turkey in 2009 after Turkish government officials refused to meet Wilders, who has compared Islam to Nazism but was acquitted of hate speech in June.

In 2009, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted by Dutch public broadcaster NOS as calling Wilders a racist who was not welcome in Turkey.

Wilders said in his article that Islam was “fundamentally intolerant” of Judaism, Christianity and humanism.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said that Gul’s visit was in line with the long relationship between the nations and the celebrations would focus on mutual economic interests.

Officials at the Turkish embassy in The Hague were not immediately available for comment.