384.The Man in Blue – Dutch Islamophobia (I)

The Islamophobic Dutch MP Geert Wilders is obviously not quite right in the head. He cannot have read Al Qur’an, as its values are no more anti-western than those of the Old Testament of the Bible.

The story of the Netherlands and its minorities is rather sad. When I lived in the Netherlands (I left in 1996) there were three main groups of post 1945 immigrants : Moroccans, Turks and Afro-Caribbeans from Suriname (‘Dutch’ Guyana) and the 6 ‘Dutch’ Caribbean Islands.

For the purpose of this article the Moroccans and Turks and other more recent Muslim immigrants like the Somalis are the most relevant.

On the whole the Netherlands was a liberal and tolerant country, much more open minded than the UK. That liberalism included respect for homosexuals. Amsterdam was full of refugees from homophobic Britain, as especially in the western cities like Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht and Rotterdam, you can be openly homosexual without there being a stigma.

What many Dutch people thought, including politicians and bureaucrats dealing with minorities, was that immigrants would gradually imbibe this wonderful liberal culture, and become like the rest of us. Many Dutch people, for the Netherlands is a very secular country, also thought that Muslims would gradually become less Muslim, just like Dutch Christians gradually became less Christian.

The man who started the Dutch Islamophobic movement was not some deeply conservative person from the Dutch ‘back-of-beyond’. Pim Fortuijn was a homosexual from the liberal urban west.

Of course the Dutch Islamophobes do not all oppose Islam because they are opposed to the discrimination of homosexuals. But it does demonstrate the clash between the liberal culture of many of the Dutch and the extreme conservatism of many of the Muslims in the Netherlands. Most Dutch people will far prefer the company of homosexuals of whatever ethnic background to that of conservative homophobes.

Just like most Sikhs in the UK do not come from towns and cities but from Panjab villages, most Turks and Moroccans come from Turkish and Moroccan  villages.

The Dutch authorities for too long thought that the immigrants would go back home or spontaneously would absorb ‘Dutch values’. There was less engagement with the minorities, there was no CRE.

Next week I will further discuss the present situation and possible remedies.