A group of Muslims in Amsterdam plan to launch the Muslim Democratic Party (MDP) in May and contest local elections in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, according to their spokesman Mohammed Jabri.
He told news agency ANP that the group was also looking at contesting the local election in a city in the province of North Brabant where a large number of Muslims live.
Depending on how well the party grows, Jabri said it might contest the next general election. But he also said the party was having some difficulty in attracting people with the expertise to lead the party.
The establishment of the MDP comes after the controversial Arab European League (AEL) was founded, originally in Antwerp, Belgium, by Dyab Abou Jahjah to fight what he said was discrimination against Muslims and Arabs. It now has a branch in the Netherlands and has forged a link with the MDP.
But the MDP also wants to remain independent and is in discussions with well-known and less-well known Muslims to get the party off the ground in the big cities. Contact was also being sought with non-Muslims, Jabri said, “in order to get a balance within the party’s management”.
The announcement of the new party comes days after former Immigration and Integration Minister Hilbrand Nawijn said Muslims should assimilate rather than integrate into Dutch society.
He said that Muslim schools should be banned in the Netherlands, even though the Constitution enshrines the right to establish religious schools. His remarks were not met by a public outcry.
Following the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam last November, there were a spate of tit-for-tat attacks against Muslim and Christian buildings. A Muslim school in Uden was burnt down and another Muslim school in Eindhoven was bombed.
Figures released late last year showed that the majority of attacks after the murder were targeted against Muslims.
Meanwhile, MDP spokesman Jabri is a writer and columnist for Elqalem.nl (www.elqalem.nl), a website for Muslims in the Netherlands. The website’s homepage features a cartoon of a person dropping a Jewish Star of David into a wastepaper basket.
A column on one page ‘thanks’ Muslim critics Ayaan Hirshi [sic] Ali, Van Gogh and Geert Wilders and people like them for helping in one go “to make young Muslims in the Netherlands more aware of their Islamic roots”.
Van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death apparently because of his movie “Submission“, which accused the Koran of sanctioning violence against women.
MP Hirsi Ali, who collaborated on the film, and MP Wilders went into hiding after the murder following threats to their lives for criticising Islam. Wilders has returned to the public eye and Hirsi Ali is expected to attend Parliament again next week.
The article on the website finishes by noting: “Since 9/11 [September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon] one million Americans have become Muslims. God’s ways are truly unfathomable”.