The number of antisemitic incidents recorded in the Netherlands in 2005 – 150 − returned to the pre-2001 level. Repercussions of the
murder of moviemaker Theo Van Gogh in November 2004 were still being expressed
in tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens of Holland.
the jewish community
estimated 30,000 Jews live in the Netherlands today out of some 16 million
inhabitants. The majority live in Amsterdam. Dutch Jewry is represented by
three councils, based on affiliation: the Nederlands Israelitisch
Kerkgenootschap, the Verbond van Liberaal Religieuze Joden and the Portugees
Israelitisch Kerkgenootschap. The community, which sustains a variety of
religious and educational institutions, publishes the newspaper Nieuw
extremist organizations and groups
to the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service AIVD, several local Islamist
networks are active in the Netherlands. Varying in number and size, they consist
of second or third generation immigrants who have radicalized and developed
into potential jihadists. As became apparent from activities of the Hofstad
group (see below), they concentrate on specific local targets such as politicians
and government and establishment figures and institutions rather than on random
In mid-October 2005, seven suspects
belonging to the Hofstad network were arrested on suspicion of planning attacks
on the Second Chamber of Parliament and the AIVD building. Here, too, the war in Iraq appeared to be a motivating
factor. In his video testament, one of the suspects, Samir A, referred to the
fate of suppressed brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
The Hofstad network consists
mainly of young persons who were raised and reside in the Netherlands. Contacts with likeminded persons via the Internet, and lectures and meetings in private
dwellings contribute strongly to their radicalization. Although the network
operates locally and autonomously in the main, some members maintain contacts
with radical Islamic figures abroad.
Though lacking a solid knowledge of Islam
themselves, some members of Hofstad compile their own version based on Koranic
texts taken out of context and an extremist interpretation of these texts which
they designate as the truth. Thus, individuals such as Mohammed Bouyeri
(‘Mohammed B.’, the
suspected murderer of van Gogh), were
able to give other young Muslims the impression of having an extensive
knowledge of Islam.
Although the Hofstad network is
characterized by its lack of a hierarchic structure, in 2004, the Syrian cleric
Abu Khalid played a major role in the network’s ideological and religious
development. After he fled the country, other radical Muslims within the
network took on leadership functions.
Documents of militants such as ‘Mohammed B.’, Internet traffic of the
network’s adherents and members, and last testaments found, show that the
religious ideas of the Hofstad network are inspired by the ideology of the
radical Islamist, al-Qa`ida affiliated Takfir wal Hijra. Its ideology includes explicit
political objectives, such as the destruction of existing political and social
structures and their replacement by purely Islamic ones. The use of violence
against persons considered unbelievers or renegades is justified. Increasingly young female Muslims have been gaining
prominence in the network.
Van Gogh’s murder in November
2004 and its aftermath had a negative effect on mutual trust between Muslims
and non-Muslims in the Netherlands. Even more than in 2004, social discontent increased
among parts of these communities following several incidents of arson at
Islamic schools and mosques. Government measures, such as the dispatch of
troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and its statement that it was looking into the
possibility of banning the burka (all-enveloping outer garment), were interpreted
by some Muslims as being directed against all of them.
Social discontent is usually
not expressed in a direct way. Often repercussions following an event are
noticeable only after several months. This is due partly to the lack of a
broadly-based organization which could function as an outlet for such emotions.
In the case of the Moroccan community, to second and third generation immigrants
Moroccan identity or ethnicity appears to be an insufficient binding factor for
the existence of a viable organization. The Arab European League (AEL), for
example, was unable to hold on to its initial success (see ASW 2003/4). An increasing number of
Moroccan youngsters is therefore resorting to non-traditional Moroccan forms of
Islam to express their identity. This Islamic ‘counterculture’ opposes both
first generation Moroccans and Dutch society and the government. Many of them confine
themselves to an ultra-orthodox way of live (expressed, for example, in their
code of attire and conduct between the sexes), and in extreme cases seek to
place the Shari`a above Dutch law, or express willingness to commit (terrorist)
Salafi foundations and mosques, though
small in number, also contribute to the radicalization of Muslim youth. For
many years these missionary (dawa) groups propagated anti-integration
and anti-western views. Moreover, some primary schools associated with Salafi
mosques, provide extra-curricular lessons (such as religion and Arabic) in
order to transmit radical Islamic views. Nevertheless, probably due to
increased media and government interest, some ultra-orthodox Muslims have
recently warned youngsters against the extremist and violent ideology of the
Takfir wal Hijra doctrine, and explicitly condemned attacks such as those on
the London underground in 2005. Hence, many radical youngsters no longer see
them as true interpreters of their religion.
A limited part of the Turkish community
has also proved vulnerable to radical Islamic ideology
year 2005 witnessed a renewed assault by right-wing extremist circles on Muslim
institutions in the Netherlands, such as mosques and schools. Right-wing extremists
also expressed their rage and frustration at the murder of Theo van Gogh (in
November 2004) on right-wing Internet forums, as well as great dissatisfaction
about the role of the government which, they complained, put too much emphasis
on dialogue with Muslims.
murder further inflamed feelings between the xenophobic and nationalist ‘Lonsdale’
(named after the brand of clothing they wear) youth and immigrant youngsters. A
fight between indigenous and immigrant youngsters at a mosque in Venray and a
fire at an Islamic primary school in Uden in spring 2005 prompted AIVD to start
an investigation into Lonsdale youth, some of whom have contact on an
individual basis with members of right-wing extremist circles. Many of the
hundreds of hard-core neo-Nazis active in the Netherlands developed in the
neo-Nazi Nederlandse Volksunie (NVU), led by Constant Kusters, was
active only in regard to opposing the European constitution and entry of Turkey to the EU. The party considers the NSB – the Dutch collaboration party during the
1930s – moderate. They use the white supremacist website http://www.stormfront.org to express
their views. The Radical Volunteer Force, which split from the NVU, remains
limited in scope.
Ultranationalist parties and groups in
the Netherlands appear to have greater electoral potential than neo-Nazi
parties. Many Lonsdale youth identify with parties such as the Nationale
Alliantie (NA) on issues such as the multicultural society. There was,
however, no increase in the number of nationalist parties in the Netherlands. This is partly explained by the limited political motivation of these Lonsdale
youth. Splintering appears to be an additional reason for the limited growth of
right-wing extremist parties and groups. The Nieuwe Nationale Partij’
(New National Party), for example, disbanded itself, in February 2005 due to
the exodus of members.
The NA continues to be the most active
ultra-nationalist party in the Netherlands. On 11 June 2005 the NA held a demonstration in Rotterdam against the construction of a Surinam mosque. The
demonstration proceeded peacefully, but the NA was the focus of media attention
in June 2005 following an arson attack on their old mosque. Although the NA
declared that it had nothing to do with it, a NA sympathizer was considered the
main suspect. Following his arrest, several moderate NA members left the party,
while a number of prominent party leaders also canceled their membership but
continue to exercise influence behind the scenes.
According to CIDI (Israel Information and Documentation Center), at 159, the total number of incidents returned to the pre-2001
level. The fall may be attributed to the reduced number of e-mails and incidents
of verbal abuse. Nevertheless, in the physical violence category, the 9 incidents
were the second highest since 1999 (5 in 2004). These ranged from a fight at a video rental shop between five youths of North-African background and a young
Jewish couple of about 18 to throwing a rock at a car and yelling: “Jew whore,
they forgot to finish you off during the war.” The number of threats of
violence was also high, at 14 (15 in 2004), ranking third since 1999. Incidents reported by schools in 2005 were down to 12 from 18 in 2003 and 2004. Other organizations also experienced a general decline in numbers of antisemitic
incidents. One of the main causes was the relative calm in the Middle East in 2005.
The Meldpunt Discriminatie Amsterdam (Amsterdam
Antidiscrimination Agency), registered 24 complaints about antisemitism in 2005
compared to 45 in 2004. The National Expertise Center on Discrimination for the
Public Prosecutor reported that cases were down as well. According to the
annual report of the MDI, antisemitism was no longer the largest category of
complaints in 2005.
Antisemitic e-mails were down to 15 in 2005 compared to 121 in 2004. Everyday in-your-face antisemitism did not diminish as much. As
in previous years, verbal abuse remained the largest category, with 42
incidents (78 in 2004).
In 2005 perpetrators of North-African origin
accounted for 38 percent of reports of antisemitic incidents, compared to 41
percent in 2002, 43.5 percent in 2003 and 45 percent in 2004.
With respect to the Internet, the MDI
has reported several hundred right-wing extremist sites, including
Stormfront.org, Polinico, Nationale Alliantie and Holland Hardcore. These sites
attack all minorities: Jews, Muslims, blacks, homosexuals.
The share of right-wing extremists in
antisemitism is reflected primarily in instances of graffiti and vandalism of
Jewish buildings and monuments. The graffiti regularly includes swastikas,
white power symbols, ‘88’s (denoting ‘HH’ or ‘Heil Hitler’) and catchphrases
such as ‘wir sind zurück’ (We are back) and ‘strafkampf=mijnkampf’
(prison camp = Mein Kampf).
Nine media incidents were registered as
antisemitic or anti-Zionist. Gretta Duisenberg, chairwoman of
the Comité Stop de Bezetting (Committee against the Occupation) and wife
of the president of the European Central Bank, for example, claimed on
the television program “The Black Sheep”: “They [Jewish women] annexed not only
the Palestinian territories, [but also] the restaurant in the south [of
Amsterdam]. That is how far they will go.” Propria Cures, an Amsterdam magazine for students, referred to a Jewish writer as “a Jewish bloody whore whom
they forgot to gas during the war.”
responses to antisemitism
In March 2005 the Media Commissioner
ordered the Dutch satellite company New Skies to cease transmitting the
antisemitic and anti-western Hizballah satellite station al-Manar. In a letter to the Second Chamber of
Parliament of 3 November 2005, Justice Minister Donner wrote that they were
investigating potentially high-risk stations on the air in the Netherlands and how they might be blocked through existing or new instruments.
The reduced proportion of perpetrators
of North-African heritage might be partly attributable to education and
‘dialog’ projects launched in cities such as Amsterdam. Following antisemitic
incidents in the Diamant neighborhood, CIDI worked with the Turkish
organization Milli Görtis and Tans (Moroccan and Islamic organization) to
organize a meeting with leaders of political parties in Amsterdam. CIDI is
setting up several grassroots projects in the neighborhood as well.
Thanks in part to various ‘dialog’
activities (such as football matches), there has been a considerable reduction
in antisemitic incidents in Amsterdam’s de Baarsjes neighborhood where
commemoration and liberation ceremonies held on 4 and 5 May were disrupted; Jews
approaching the synagogue in the neighborhood were also regularly pelted with
stones or called names.
The Interculturele Alliantie is a
similarly successful project. Following an initiative of CIDI, two Islamic
organizations (ISBO, the umbrella organization of Islamic schools in the
Netherlands, and SPIOR, the Islamic Platform in Rotterdam), as well as the gay
and lesbian rights organization COC and Rotterdam anti-discrimination bureau RADAR
joined the ‘Classroom of Difference’ program in schools, aimed at eliminating
all forms of discrimination, exclusion and prejudice. Everyone associated with
the school is involved: students, teachers, staff and parents.
Diversion, a creative program for the
development of multicultural projects, includes the ‘World War II in
Perspective’ curriculum, in which Jewish and Muslim youths team up to teach
students at general secondary schools and at occupational training programs
about World War II and the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict.
On 29 September Aad Veenman, head of the
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Netherlands Railways), admitted during the launching of
an anti-racist campaign by the Jewish community, that his company took an
active part in the deportation of Dutch Jews to extermination camps during
World War II, by providing trains and personnel to deport Jews to camps in Germany and Poland. He apologized for the involvement of the company in Nazi crimes.
In 2005 antifascists attempted to prevent
meetings of ultra-right-wing groups. As has been common in the past few years,
disruption of the public order during large-scale manifestations came from the
side of the antifascists rather than from their extreme right-wing opponents. In
mid-May more than thirty antifascists were arrested in Arnhem during an action
against a demonstration by the Nederlandse Volksunie.