The New York Times
August 13, 2011.
AMSTERDAM — Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who admitted to mass killings last month, was obsessed with Islam and had high praise for the Netherlands, an important test case in the resurgence of the anti-immigrant right in northern Europe.
The sometimes violent European backlash against Islam and its challenge to national values can be said to have started here, in a country born from Europe’s religious wars. After a decade of growing public anger, an aggressively anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim politician, Geert Wilders, leads the third-largest party, which keeps the government in power.
In Slotervaart, a majority immigrant neighborhood in southwestern Amsterdam, Maria Kuhlman and her friends watched Muslim families stroll by on a Ramadan afternoon, some of the men in robes and beards, the women wearing headscarves. A large blond woman shouted, “Go Wilders!”
Mr. Wilders’ Freedom Party, which combines racist language with calls for more social spending, won 15.5 percent of the vote in June 2010. He was recently acquitted of charges of hate speech for comparing the Koran to “Mein Kampf” and calling mosques “palaces of hatred.” He wants all immigrants and their children deported and warns of the supposed Muslim plot to create “Eurabia.” He declined repeated interview requests.
While many Dutch recoil at his language, he touches on real fears. “Sometimes I’m afraid of Islam,” Ms. Kuhlman said. “They’re taking over the neighborhood and they’re very strong. I don’t love Wilders. He’s a pig, but he says what many people think.”
Now, after Norway, the Dutch are taking stock. The killings frightened everyone, said Kathleen Ferrier, a Christian Democrat legislator born in Surinam, who had objected to her party joining a Wilders-supported government. “Norway makes it clear how much Dutch society is living on the edge of its nerves,” she said. “Wilders says hateful things and no one objects. We have freedom of speech, but you also have to be responsible for the effect of your words.”
Taboos about discussing ethnicity and race — founded in shame about delivering Dutch Jews to the Nazis — are long gone.
Ms. Kuhlman has lived in the Slotervaart neighborhood for 36 years but says, “I no longer feel at home.” Built in the 1950s, Slotervaart is now about 60 percent immigrants or their children, most from Morocco or Turkey. Crime rates are high, especially among the second generation.
She remembered sunbathing topless on her balcony in the 1980s. “It’s inconceivable now,” she said. “Now my next-door neighbor doesn’t even greet me in the hallway, he can’t look at me, and it’s been 28 years,” Ms. Kuhlman said.
Then she laughed bitterly. “He doesn’t work; I work. I work all shifts. I pay taxes. I work for them!”
Willem Stuyter, nursing a beer, broke in. “It’s already too late,” he said. “In 10 years this will be a Muslim state.”
Read the rest here.
Comment: Those of us who are the descendants of slaves the Dutch brought to Suriname and South Africa have let them get away with too much. There is no movement to hold the Dutch responsible for their role in slavery in South Africa.
Where is our reparations and restitution movement?
That aside, it is almost laughable to read the Dutch anxieties about the presence of the Other on their native soil. What did they think would be the outcome of their imperial history?
I have a nephew born and raised there and he has just released his newest hip hop video. His name is Ridwaan (like mine but with an extra "a") and his moms, Anisa, calls him Riddy too (like Ridi ... you get the drift ne).
He was not named after me but I wish he was. I am proud of the little brother. I don't understand the code they call a language over there but Anisa tells me the lyrics are a protest by Other brown skins.
Translate for us Riddy. Salaams little brother.
Update (August 15): Anisa sent me a text today saying that Riddy reminded her that he was in fact named after me. Cool! I can't be more happy and honored.
Ridwaan and Ridwana are fist cousins for those of you keeping track here. And I am their Uncle Ridwan :0)
Life is good.