BRUSSELS, Belgium: Islamophobia has increased dramatically in the Netherlands following recent terrorist attacks in Europe, a human rights watchdog warned Tuesday, with Muslims the subject of stereotyping, stigmatization and frequent racist violence.
In a harshly worded report, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said even Dutch politicians have resorted to derogatory remarks about Muslims in recent years, and that racist discourse has remained “as a rule” unchallenged by mainstream political parties.
The report comes as the Netherlands is embroiled in a debate on what some Dutch politicians call an “Islamization” of the country, which has traditionally welcomed immigrants but put little pressure on them to embrace Western values.
Some in the Netherlands say the country’s multiculturalism and tolerance have provided a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism. Fears of such radicalism crystallized after the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh for his movie “Submission,” a fictional study of abused Muslim women with scenes of near-naked women with Quranic texts engraved on their flesh.
The right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has generated widespread concern with plans to make an anti-Quran film portraying the religion as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.
“Islam has been repeatedly presented as a ‘subculture’ and Muslims have been presented as the carriers of backward values, generally incompatible with democracy and the values of Western societies,” the report said.
“In the period after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and especially in the months following the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the Netherlands has witnessed a sharp rise in racist violence and other racist crimes, essentially targeted at its Muslim population,” the report said.
It said Muslims have also been disproportionally targeted by state security policies.
The report said sweeping associations between Muslims and terrorism made in virtually all types of Dutch media — newspapers, radio and television — have aggravated Islamophobic views, which are increasingly becoming part of mainstream thinking.
The Netherlands is home to approximately one million Muslims, around 6 percent of the country’s population of 16 million. Most are of Moroccan and Turkish origin.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, an independent monitoring body, assesses racially motivated violence, intolerance and xenophobia in 47 European countries. The commission is based in Strasbourg, France.
Along with concerns about Islamophobia, the commission’s report on the Netherlands said anti-Semitic insults and Holocaust denial are growing more widespread.
“As an illustration, the word “Jew” is reported to be increasingly used as an insult and different aspects of the Holocaust are reportedly questioned in everyday situations, such as in schools,” the commission said.
Comment: The report fails to point out the corrolation between the growing presence of Muslims (both by immigration and via a high birth-rate) and the growth of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denials.