Fear, anger but also support for Wilders among Dutch Muslims

Fear, anger but also support for Wilders among Dutch Muslims

Leaders of the Dutch Muslim community have expressed their anger and fear after the electoral victory of Geert Wilders, a staunch opponent of Islam, but Muslims are also pragmatic and are even ready to give him “a chance”.

No mosques, no scarves, no Korans: the manifesto of Wilders’ PVV party is openly anti-Islam. “We want less Islam in the Netherlands”, we can read in the PVV program.

Wilders called Moroccans “scum”, compared the Koran to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and received death threats after threatening to organize a caricature contest of the Prophet Muhammad.

But he muted his anti-Islam rhetoric during the campaign, focusing more on issues such as the rising cost of living.

Muhsin Koktas, leader of the Muslim association CMO, nevertheless says he is “worried about this country”. “I don’t know if Muslims are still safe in the Netherlands,” he says.

“Some are afraid, others are worried about their future, wondering what the result means for their citizenship and their place in Dutch society,” Habib el Kaddouri, of the SMN association of Moroccans, told AFP. Dutch.

“At the same time, I noticed that people are also combative. We will not allow ourselves to be chased away by Mr. Wilders or by a right-wing government,” he argues.

– “He deserves to have a chance” –

Muslims interviewed by AFP in Amsterdam and Venlo (east), Wilders’ hometown on the German border, painted a more nuanced picture, however, with some attaching more importance to economic issues than to his past comments. on Islam.

“I am of Turkish origin and Muslim. However, I voted for Geert Wilders,” said a resident of Venlo on condition of anonymity.

“We are all poor and we think he can change things,” he explains.

“All these statements about closing mosques are just politics,” summarizes this unemployed 41-year-old while munching on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Burak Cen, a 40-year-old taxi driver, did not vote. But if he had done so, he would also have voted for Wilders, he assures us in a café in Amsterdam.

“I think he deserves to have his chance,” he told AFP. “He’s just trying to get votes with his propaganda about mosques and Muslims. But for the rest, what he says about the Dutch and poverty is right.”

“Refugees are priority for housing while we have to wait 20 years to have a house,” continues Mr. Cen, referring to a key theme of the campaign: the glaring shortage of affordable housing.

– “Jan, Piet, Mustafa, Ahmed” –

Seeking to allay minority fears after the vote, Geert Wilders stressed that he wanted to be “the prime minister of all Dutch people, regardless of their religion, their sexuality, their color, their gender or whatever.” or else.”

“When you are Prime Minister, your role is different from that of the leader of the opposition,” he argued.

For Hasan Bensaid, a 49-year-old construction worker from Amsterdam, Geert Wilders’ bluster about the country’s Muslim community, which numbers nearly a million people, is just window dressing.

“He’s been shouting in parliament for 20 years, that doesn’t impress me. We are extremists, we are thieves, we are everything,” laments Hasan Bensaid.

On the other hand, “everything is expensive and I think the ministers have done anything”. “I will give him a chance. He can be Prime Minister,” he concludes.

For Mustafa Ayranci, of the Turkish workers’ association HTIB, his community must respect the voters’ decision, even if it is disappointing.

He wants to take Geert Wilders at his word when he talks about being the Prime Minister of all Dutch people.

“He will not only be the Prime Minister of Jan and Piet,” he said, “but also that of Mustafa and Ahmed.”

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