Violence against Muslims in the Netherlands rose considerably last year, according to the latest monitor on racism and extremism published by Leiden University and the Anne Frank Foundation on Wednesday.
The number of violent incidents against Muslims rose to 82 in 2007, from 62 in the preceding year. However the total number of racist attacks last year was down to 187, according to the 306-page report.
The Anne Frank Foundation says anti-Muslim sentiment has grown “significantly” in the last year and public opinion about Muslims has become more negative.
The researchers also point to the stream of anti-Muslim comments by the populist PVV party, led by the controversial member of parliament Geert Wilders. This, and the massive attention they are given in the media, has contributed to Islam phobia in the Netherlands, the foundation says.
The fact that the justice department decided not to prosecute those who made these anti-Muslim statements also played a role, say researchers Jaap van Donselaar and Peter Rodrigues.
The researchers also conclude that the PVV can be labelled as an extreme-right group because of, for example, its dislike of “strangers” and the political establishment and its tendency towards authoritarianism. The party also attracts more radical right-wing extremists.
Wilders is furious with the report. “They have gone completely mad. It is an insult to the PVV and our voters,” he told ANP news agency.
The arrival of the PVV has played a major part in changing the extreme-right climate in the country, according to the report. And the willingness of extreme right groups to take action has grown significantly. The number of demonstrations organised by extreme right-wing group is expected to rise to 20 this year from 12 in 2007.
See also “Islamophobia on the rise” on the website of the Anne Frank Museum.