World

Islamophobia On The Rise In The Netherlands

| by Jimmy King
A mosque in the NetherlandsA mosque in the Netherlands

Islamophobia is reportedly on the rise in the Netherlands. The revelation comes as a recent University of Amsterdam study showed that one third of the country’s mosques have been subject to threats or vandalism in the past decade.

Mosques have endured aggression in the form of threatening letters, arson attempts, the placement of a pig's head and defacement of property, reports New Europe.

Charif Slimani, the imam at a mosque in Roosendaal, Netherlands, described his experience after gasoline was poured over the floors of his mosque on Nov. 14, 2015, immediately after the Paris terror attacks, reports Al Jazeera.

“The fear, the worries, the feeling that you are not safe anymore: that damage is a lot worse," Slimani said. "That hurts more than the material damage."

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“Although we have cameras, we ensure that there is always someone present to guard the mosque, also during the night.”

Azzedine Karrat, another imam in the Netherlands, experienced an attack by petrol bomb against worshippers inside his mosque on Feb. 27.  Two days before the attack, Karrat said he received letters with neo-Nazi symbols.

“I’m worried, but this is not about me or the mosque, but about Muslims in general," Karrat said. "I am worried about the situation in the country. It says something about the dislocation in the Netherlands. It is not a message that brings people together."

The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Netherlands may be in response to growing fears of terrorist attacks by radical Islamist groups.  Roughly 220 Dutch Muslims are thought to have joined terrorist organizations like ISIS, sparking fears that they could launch terror attacks at home. 

Ahmed Marcouch, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives, tried to clarify the motives behind the country’s anti-Muslim actions.

"We are likely to see an increase in the number of incidents because people have been made more aware of the problem, partly thanks to social media, and are encouraged to report such incidents," Marcouch told Al Jazeera. 

Slimani emphasized the importance of Dutch unity against violence and extremism.

“We are an active part of Dutch society," Slimani said. "We should stay together and not allow extremists from both sides to divide us."

Sources: Al Jazeera, New Europe / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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