Islamophobia in the Netherlands
by Ineke van der Valk
published by Amsterdam University Press
Since 11 September 2001 – and especially since the murder of Theo van Gogh – Muslims and Islam have frequently been unfavourably portrayed at the heart of public debate. Manifestations of Islamophobia can be found on the Internet, in comments by the PVV, and in acts of violence committed against mosques. Dutch anti-discrimination policies are coming under pressure now that this ideology has forced its way to the centre of the political stage. How do negative connotations about Muslims come about? Where are the acts of violence taking place? Is the Netherlands the front line in the ‘clash of civilisations’, as has been claimed by politicians, opinion formers and others in the international arena? Or is it all about an exclusion mechanism? The author states that shifts in the political climate can only be fully understood if racism, ideology, and language are involved in the analysis. Her research for Islamophobia and Discrimination consisted of a study of relevant literature, an analysis of documents, and the gathering of data on the various methods people use to express their views.
Excerpt from the Introduction:
On 22 July 2011, a Norwegian Islamophobic right-wing extremist1 carried out a massacre of young social democrats on the island of Utoya near Oslo, resulting in the deaths and injuries of dozens of people. He also planted bombs in Norwegian government buildings, which also led to fatalities. The perpetrator’s motives were ideological: he wanted to bring an end to the Islamisation of Norway and to hit back at those people he believed were responsible for it. His attack was political in nature. His actions were aimed not just at a young multicultural generation and the future politicians among them, but also at the institutions of Norwegian democracy, against the basic values of diversity and openness.2 As far as is known, the marksman operated alone, but his views and motives are shared by a wider, mostly virtual network that has set itself against Islam and Muslims, as revealed by a widely distributed manifesto with many references, which was written by him. It concerns an Islamophobic ideology that many people and movements all over the world share and disseminate, not least through new media. A significant part of this virtual movement depicts not only Islam and Muslims as the enemy, but also holds social democracy responsible for the perceived Islamisation of Europe. This ideology comes in different guises. There are extremist, extreme, and moderate versions. It was primarily the extremist version that prompted the Norwegian attacker to commit his acts of violence. He is an extremist, in terms of his deeds, his words, and his agenda. Hardly anyone in the Netherlands openly voiced support for what he had done, although a few people did.3 Messages of approval and understanding for his ideas and motives were more frequently found on Internet forums. There is a ready audience in the Netherlands for an Islamophobic ideology in different variants, be they extremist, extreme, or moderate, as demonstrated from the statements and messages of support in the various new media. Traditional national boundaries count for very little, and they are becoming increasingly meaningless. Worldwide, the Netherlands is regarded by Islamophobic ideologues as the front line in the ‘clash of civilisations’.4 When the attacks took place in Norway, this book was already taking shape. It was not the attacks themselves that prompted the need to conduct further research into this ideology, but they did provide an extra reason for doing so.
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