Wilders and his film worry Dutch expats
Wilders and his film worry Dutch expats
by Perro de Jong
Dutch people living abroad are worried about the effects of right-wing politician Geert Wilders' anti-Qu'ran film. In recent weeks Dutch embassies have been busy making emergency plans, a move which many people have judged as an over-reaction. However, Dutch expats in Islamic countries in particular say that they are already having problems as a result of comments made by Wilders and that they are beginning to fear for their personal safety.
Some of the reactions from the RNW Global Forum:
* "Wilders has to learn to tone down his statements. This way he'll end up being assassinated before the discussion gets underway."
* "His comments about Islam are no different than comments Muslims make about us."
* "His issues are alright. But his answers are wide off the target. Just like the people who vote for him."
* "I think Wilders should come live in an Islamic country for a while. Then he'd be capable of expressing an opinion."
More than 1000 Dutch participants in Radio Netherlands Worldwide's Global Forum - all of them living outside the Netherlands - have responded to questions put to them about the commotion surrounding the Wilders' film, which has yet to be released.
The Dutch embassies' fears of a possible violent reaction seem to have escaped the attention of the majority of the respondents. However, of those living in Islamic countries, nine percent say they had been approached by or received relevant information from their embassy.
For the rest, most of the Dutch expats seem fairly calm and believe the media have devoted too much attention to Mr Wilders' comments. Furthermore, there was no talk of any of them returning - temporarily or otherwise - to the Netherlands in connection with this issue.
Geert Wilders, leader of the new Freedom Party, has been major news in the Netherlands for weeks with his anti-Qu'ran film, even though no one has seen a single second of it and it's not yet known where and when it will be released.
For many people, though, they simply have to think back to what happened following the release of Theo van Gogh's film Submission in 2004. He was killed by an extremist Muslim several months later.
Many Dutch expats are concerned about their own position and no fewer than nine out of ten believe that Wilders' has put his own life in danger too. Around half of the respondents to the RNW survey warn that Dutch firms could soon be boycotted as a result of the film.
A somewhat smaller percentage fears that there could also be attacks on Dutch targets. However, the most remarkable finding concerns the number of Dutch citizens in Islamic countries who say they are already facing problems or even danger in connection with Geert Wilders: 43 percent.
Even in Islamic countries, however, the majority of the expats who responded to the survey believe that Wilders should be able to say whatever he wants and that the Dutch government should not take action against the film. While they think that his statements are indeed polarising Dutch society and offensive to a large group of people, nearly two-thirds believe that he is only saying what most people think.
Dutch expats say the politicians in The Hague are the ones who are really responsible. At least three-quarters place the blame not on Wilders but on the larger, mainstream political parties for avoiding issues concerning foreigners and immigration.
The expats are for the most part more moderate in their opinion of 'Islamification' than Wilders. Although even in Islamic countries there is a group of eight percent which agrees with his view that Islam is a 'backward' culture.
A small majority of the Dutch expats thinks that the influence of Islam will become a problem for the Netherlands. However, the figure is a bit lower among expats who live in Islamic countries, and most expats do not believe that the Netherlands will become Islamicised.
They also do not agree with Wilders' controversial remark that Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar is "bonkers" for saying that the Netherlands is becoming a society with a Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Most of those questioned even think that this is plausible, although they are not quite so sure of whether they should be happy about this.
Join the conversation
A majority of those surveyed say that Wilders receives little media attention in the country in which they live and that they are not aware of anyone within their immediate circle who knows anything about Wilders' statements.
However where there are other people who have heard of him, he's the topic of the day: more than 70 percent then discuss the Wilders issue and fully intend to stay part of the debate.
Join the conversation
A majority of those surveyed say that Wilders receives little media attention in the country in which they live and that in their neighbourhood they aren't aware of anyone who knows anything about Wilders' statements.
However in places where the issue is in the news it's the topic of the day: more than 70 percent discuss the Wilders issue. And they are fully intent on joining the conversation, whether they think it's a hype or not. Few people are planning to avoid the topic. They would rather know what all the commotion is about.
* RNW translation (fs)
Tags: anti-Qu'ran film, Dutch expats, Geert Wilders, Islamification, Koran, Qu'ran, Submission, Theo van Gogh
* Wilders and the Dutch image
* Trepidation over Wilders' anti-Islam film
* Anti-Islamisation campaign in Europe
* A bit of this, a bit of that
* On Wilders
* Bible and Koran
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bugs, 01-02-2008 - Netherlands
@john, sorry you had such a bad time, however maybe you got that bad time because the family were bad, not because they were Muslim specifically. I know someone else who married a Muslim guy, she converted too, and was welcomed into the family with open arms. So every story is not the same, and I bet your wife family wouldn'' t have treated you any different if they weren't Muslim. What I see happening in the Netherlands is mass hysteria fed by Wilders, shared myths based on ignorance, and people for whatever reason, not willing to connect with each other - that does not equal a wish to kill each other or do violence to each other. The lack of real tolerance in the Netherlands is not restricted to Muslim communities, not when we have government ministers publically challenging other elected government ministers on the grounds of their religious belief (Wilders questioned the ability of two Muslim politicians to be 'loyal' to the Netherlands). What kind of society do we want, one in which myths based on fear get blown out of proportion and children are scared of each other on the streets, or do we want an open society in which people are accepted as members of a shared community in which differences are respected and treasured? What we are discussing here is the Netherlands, a country in which the big majority of people are not Muslim, and where there are laws that apply to everyone equally. This is NOT under threat from anyone, especially not from the minoirity Muslim communities within it. The issue needs to be put into perspective without the popularistic hysteria surrounding certain politicians. We are not talking about how Islamic countries function, or about how different cultures express their Islamic beliefs, we are talking about a Western European country with a strong existing culture and values. The only change I have seen here in the last 5 years is a huge growth in nationalism and right-wing extremism.
John kernot, email@example.com, 01-02-2008 - australia
I was married to a Muslim lady for 12 years. We were married in a Muslim nikaah ceremony. I converted to Islam. For those 12 years I was humuiliated by Islam. My wife's family humiliated me, but they had the full support of the clerics and the Fiji Muslim League. Then I read about what they are saying and doing in Holland to people who are trying to bring out the truth. Im contactable and can substantiate everything I say. This is a good forum. John Kernot (humiliated by Islam for 12 years).
bugs, 01-02-2008 - Netherlands
@Sandra, I am hearing about it on this website in all the responses to these Wilders articles, I am hearing people like you talking of the 'threat' of violence, the 'violent response' there is going to be to Wilders film. The only people talking of this violence is people like you. The only response I have heard so far from the Muslim communities is that they are ready to open their mosques and invite people in to share with them. Just read the responses here - you will see the hysterical paranoia is coming from the non-Muslims responding to the news.
Sandra, 31-01-2008 - Nederlands
Bugs, if you are hearing about plans of any violent attacks by anyone, moslim or non moslims, then you are obligated by law to report it to the Dutch authorities. Nobody is immune to the Netherlands laws.
marcus, 30-01-2008 - United States of America
Bugs, thank you for the information. That is (the counter-movie) exactly what I am advocating. Dialogue and reasoned response are the keys. To fly off the handle before the initial movie is screened does no one, whether they are citizens of Christendom or Islamic lands, no good at all. Based on Wilder's previous statements people can probably accurately speculate on the content of the film. But as of yet it is still speculation. When the contents of the film are finally known that is when the true debate should begin. So far on these posts we seem to be putting the cart before the horse. If we all agree we are citizens of civilized nations, regardless of whether the nation is located in the west or east, then dialogue and debate should be our first course of action. Unfortunately, the people we choose to represent us may see such a debate as limiting their policy options. The saving grace for a situation such as this are these sections on the RNW website. Here, the citizens of the world, and the posts do appear to span the globe, can candidly express their ideas, and sometimes fears, and engage each other in a type of debate normally left only to diplomats. Also, thanks for the vote of confidence Sandra.