Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article on Dutch Muslim Parties: A New Islamization Development was originally published by the Begin-Sadat Institute, and republished here with the author’s consent.
Dutch Muslim Parties: A New Islamization Development
New facets of Islamization in Western Europe keep emerging. An important one is emergence of Muslim political parties, so far mainly in the Netherlands. These exist both on the local and national levels. While identity politics in the Netherlands have greatly decreased over the past decades, the full impact of this new development is not yet understood.
The main Muslim party is Denk (Think). It came into being after Turkish-born parliamentarians, Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, were expelled from the Labour (PvdA) faction at the end of 2014. They opposed the integration policy for immigrants of then PvdA Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher. Shortly before Öztürk said to Ahmed Marcouch, another Labour Muslim parliamentarian: “May Allah punish you.”[2.] As long as Kuzu and Öztürk represented Labour they could not speak outside their assigned areas of competence, nor could they make statements contradicting their party line. Now that they have their own party they take far more radical positions.
In the 2017 parliamentary elections Denk won three seats of a total 150. Besides Kuzu and Öztürk, Moroccan Farid Azarkan was also elected. An estimated 1.2 million Muslims live in the Netherlands of which 500 000 are Turks and 400 000 are Moroccans. Recent polls indicate that if elections were held now, Denk would increase its number of seats. [3.]
Many Turks hold dual Dutch and Turkish nationality. 115,000 Turks in the Netherlands voted in the 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum. Of these 71% backed Erdogan’s proposal. [4.]About the same number of voters participated in the 2018 Turkish parliamentary elections. Of these 62% voted for Erdogan’s AK party. In Turkey that party received 53% of the votes. [5.]
In the established Dutch parties there are several other Muslim parliamentarians. Kuzu and Öztürk are however seen as the only loyal Erdogan supporters in the Dutch parliament. This is problematic because under his presidency the democratic character of Turkey has greatly been eroded.
The Denk program is a lengthy document. It doesn’t accept the Dutch culture as a lead culture. It states that not only do the immigrants have to listen to the Dutch but also the reverse. One example of such a statement is: “When I think about the Netherlands I dream about a healthy Netherlands where the nurse Thea takes into account the desires and demands of aunt Latifa.”[7.] This could include discriminatory attitudes. For instance, a Muslim woman may refuse to be treated by a male doctor.[8. A Muslim may also be an antisemite who doesn’t want to be attended by a Jewish nurse? 9. Both scenarios have occurred.
So far, elected representatives of Muslim parties have not been part of ruling umunicipal coalitions. In Rotterdam before the 2018 municipal elections, three left wing parties — PvdA, Green Left (GL) and the Socialist Party (SP) — intended to cooperate with the Muslim party Nida. It then became known that Nida had called Israel a terror state in 2014 and did not want to refute this. PvdA and GL then backed out of the agreement. SP however remained. 10.
Muslim parties’ attitudes toward Israel and Jews are often hostile. Earlier this year almost all parties in the Amsterdam municipal council signed, at the request of the Jewish community, a document titled “Amsterdam Jewish Accord.” It states that Jews have a right to security paid for by the city government, that antisemitism needs to be fought and that the Jewish elements of Amsterdam’s history should be taught to the general population. Two parties refused to sign the agreement: Denk and BIJ1, a party mainly comprised of black immigrants. 11. A candidate in the Amsterdam elections on behalf of Denk claimed that Israel and the West played a role in establishing ISIS. 12.
The pro-Israel organization CIDI has stated that parliamentary questions of Denk and their promotion on Facebook are riddled with antisemitic symbols, suggestions and insinuations, hidden as criticism of Israel. 13.
Some representatives of other Muslim parties make extreme antisemitic remarks. In The Hague a Dutch councilman who converted to Islam, Arnoud van Doorn, blamed Zionism for the failed 2016 coup in Turkey.14. On May 4, National Memorial day where the more than 100,000 murdered Jews in the Holocaust were remembered, he said that the Palestinians were equal to the victims of the Holocaust.15 He has also tweeted “May Allah exterminate the Zionists.”16
Last year Israeli schoolchildren visited the Dutch parliament. Another Muslim council member in The Hague, Abdoe Khoulani, called the students“Zionist terrorists in training” and “future child murderers and occupiers.”17 A Dutch judge dismissed a court case against Khoulani, saying that his remarks did not constitute incitement to hate.18
Belgium is another country where some Muslims are politically organized, be it on a much smaller scale. The Islam party has two representatives in municipal councils. Its program includes the introduction of sharia and a 100% Islamic state in Belgium. The party also promotes separation between men and women in public transport. Islam has announced that it will contest 28 municipalities in the October elections.19 If the phenomenon of Muslim parties spreads elsewhere in Western Europe,incitement and societal tensions are likely to increase further.