AMSTERDAM – Reflecting a worrying anti-Muslim trend in the Netherlands, a recent research on anti-Muslim violence in the European country has found that approximately 69% of mosques have experienced at least one attack or more during the last ten years.
“I cannot predict a significant growth or decline of attacks against mosques for the near future,” researcher Ineke van der Valk, the author of the book ‘Islamophobia and Discrimination’, told OnIslam.net.
“Many of these attacks appear to be a response to national or international events (like terrorist attacks) and obviously those cannot be predicted by me.”
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Focusing on the amount and characteristics of attacks on mosques, the Muslims’ houses of worship, the research closely monitor trends and development in relation to multiculturalism and Islamophobia for many years.
According to the research, the Netherlands has approximately 450-475 buildings that are in use as a mosque.
It lists information of over 70 mosques in the country, indicating that approximately 69% of those mosques had experienced at least one attack or more during the last ten years.
The most common attacks were smashed windows, followed by slurs or anti-Islamic comments sprayed with graffiti and arson.
Other types of attacks include aggression against mosque personnel, amounting to death threats to Muslims in general or to a specific Mosque by email or phone.
For example, a Rotterdam-based mosque received various letters with content like ‘Death to all Muslims’ and ‘Muslims are vomited pig-hallal’ [SIC]. Other mosques received envelopes containing pornographic content or messages that contain blasphemy.
Other anti-mosque attacks included putting head or different other body parts or blood of either pigs or sheep at the buildings or on the terrain surrounding it.
Released in 2012, Van der Valk’s book, Islamophobia and Discrimination, has since been translated to English, French, German and Italian.
Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands’s 16 million population, mostly from Turkish and Moroccan origin.
Concerns about growing anti-Muslim attacks increased after the latest arson attack, which occurred a few days ago.
On the evening of Sunday, October 26, a bag with rubbish was placed outside a mosque in the Dutch city Etten-Leur and set on fire but hasn’t significantly damaged the mosque that has been vandalized before.
“I was not surprised by the news of this latest arson attack. Although we don’t know for sure what the motive was, in the light of the current international developments we can unfortunately expect to see these type of incidents,” researcher van der Valk told OnIslam.net.
“Experiences with international terrorism abusing the Islamic religion are generalized to all Muslims. This is how racism operates.”
However, many Muslims blamed biased media coverage and Islamophobic politicians for inciting such attacks.
A recent example is the political response from Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party to a statue of two woman wearing hijab and carrying an iPad.
The statue is called ‘girlfriends’ and is part of a total number of forty statues in The Hague, showing the city’s residents.
According to one member of the city counsel for the Freedom Party, the statue was a work of “shameless Islam propaganda” and proof of the “advancing Islamization of The Hague”.
To make sure his stance was clear, he also referred to the statue as a “terrible object of subjugation and oppression” and an “Islamic monstrosity”.
The sculptor, who made the statue, Tony van de Vorst, is a non-Muslim who stated he only aimed to show the multiculturalism within his city.
In one of the many previous anti-Islamic slur, the Freedom Party has also tried to blame Muslims for the growing population of seagulls in the city, claiming this was a result of “the rules imposed by Islam” because Muslims feed their old bread to the birds instead of throwing it away.
This caused “suffering” to “native” (i.e. non-Muslim) people living in the city, according to the politician.
With increasing number of attacks, in which only one third of perpetrators is caught by the police, the government was urged to take these threats more seriously.
“The government recently seems to take these types of attacks more seriously,” says Ineke van der Valk, “thanks to both research and the lobby to put them on the agenda of politicians.”
“Until recently these aggressive incidents were not recognized as serious problems and not much was done to prevent them from happening at all.”