Far-right Dutch groups target Muslims

29th Sep 2017

Nadine Osman

A mosque and a Muslim school in the Netherlands were targeted by a far-right group in the space of two days.

Two masked men, who climbed onto the roof of Amsterdam-based Cornelius Haga Lyceum school, were arrested on September 4. The pair claimed to be protesting against the opening of the secondary school in the Nieuw-West district in the name of a group calling itself Het Identitair Verzet (Native Resistance).

They chanted anti-Muslim slogans and unfurled a banner with the slogan: ‘If you sow Islam you will reap sharia’ another that was removed read: ‘Salafism is not welcome’.

The men threw stones at school staff who went up onto the roof to try to talk them down. The incident ended when police arrived and led the men away in handcuffs.

School term had yet to start but students were present for an introductory day.

One mother said the protest did not cause panic. “It’s not nice that it’s happening, but the atmosphere wasn’t completely ruined. We’re also kind of used to it. There is a lot of criticism of Muslim schools. We just have to prove that we have good intentions”, she said. The same group targeted an under-construction mosque in the south-east of the country on September 2. The group hanged anti-Islam banners at the roof of Tevhid Mosque which is under construction in Venlo city.

Ahmet Dursun, head of Tevhid Mosque, condemned the incident and said there were many far-right extremists in their neighbourhood, but they were not expecting such a stunt. “We’ve held talks with the mayor and some other officials. They are supporting us, we will take necessary measures not to experience such incidents again,” he said.

The group, which claimed the responsibility for the incident, draped banners reading “Stay away. The Netherlands belongs to us. We don’t want mosque and Muslims in our neighbourhood” both in Turkish and Dutch.

They also shared the photos of banners on social media and claimed they “occupied” the mosque. In the past two months, PEGIDA, another far-right anti-Muslim movement, carried out a stunt at under-construction Selimiye Mosque in Veghel and a Muslim primary school in Leiden on August 20.

PEGIDA claimed responsibility for the stunt at the Leiden-based school in time for the first day of the new school term.

The principal of Er Riseleh School, Gülsüm Tasan-Dogan, confirmed it was the first anti-Muslim incident in the school’s 24-year history. “After such an event, we do not feel safe. We have tried to keep it from our pupils, but they could see that they couldn’t get into the bicycle sheds,” said Tasan-Dogan.

He added, “We’re deeply shocked by this. You don’t know what’s going on in people’s heads”. A spokeswoman for the school, Jamila Zemouri, told The Muslim News, “Fortunately, this incident took place just before the start of our school day and we discovered it early.”

“The safety of our students is an absolute priority of the school management. The school has therefore made arrangements with the police. The supervision around the school is currently tightening and the district officer will patrol more often. With every suspicious signal, they will act kordat. We hope, however, that it will not go beyond this one incident.”

PEGIDA shared images of the stunt on its Twitter account, which is described as a “protest action” carried out by “people from Leiden”. Bicycle lock had been chained on the doors of the building and a leaflet referring to terrorist attacks in Europe. The leaflet read “We need to tackle the problem by the roots” and “oppose Islamic education”.

The group also carried out a stunt at an under-construction Dutch mosque in July. It hung threatening and anti-Muslim posters on a fence surrounding the construction site of the Selimiye Mosque, work on which began in December 2016.

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