After the overwhelming victory of the Party for Freedom (PVV), opinion makers and organizations fell over each other to express their disgust.

People were crying at work, angry and there were even demonstrations against the democratic outcome of the elections. As if the entire program of the PVV had just been converted into a new policy and Muslims were suddenly seen as ‘the other’. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Netherlands is still a coalition country, we still have a constitution, people will not be deported and the headscarf will not be banned.

Does this mean we don’t have to worry? No, there is certainly cause for concern. Freedom of religion is under enormous pressure. But looking at the facts, we must conclude that the right of Muslims to practice their religion freely has been under threat in the Netherlands for much longer.

Terror lists

Consider the restrictions on ritual slaughter, the niqab ban, government espionage in mosques, the parliamentary investigation into ways to prevent foreign financing of mosques, banks freezing the accounts of Islamic organizations, the Tax Authorities considering donations to a mosque. as an indication of fraud, the desire to organize government supervision of Koran lessons and the existence of so-called terror lists through which innocent Muslims are arrested and imprisoned. State Islamophobia is a reality in 2023.

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However, this reality is the result of years of policies made by mainstream parties. From right to left.

Does the PVV have nothing to do with this at all? Of course, but her role is completely different. The PVV is built on Islamophobia and has the stated goal of getting Islam out of the Netherlands. Not so much by pushing the buttons yourself, but mainly by pushing public opinion and the establishment in a certain direction.

Unfortunately, I know from my own experience that the PVV has often said privately that it is not about adopting motions, amendments or private member’s bills. Other parties should be concerned about that, is the gist. It was and is about driving so-called pickets. Expand the space of what is acceptable with every proposal and thus influence public opinion and guide the establishment.

The ‘triumphs of Islam’, as the external characteristics of the religion are called within the PVV, must be attacked and combated. That is why the PVV insists so strongly on closing mosques and Islamic schools, banning headscarves, halal food and the Koran. Rhetoric that would have been shocking twenty-five years ago hardly raises an eyebrow today.

Other parties have become immune to it and have even gone along with it. Although often with a different approach, the end result is the same. The fact that there are no longer any Bibles or other religious books on the table of the Speaker of the House is, for example, the result of the PVV’s wish to remove the Koran from there. The ban on face-covering clothing (the niqab ban) is the result of a wish of the PVV. The legislation that has severely limited the freedom to perform ritual slaughter is also the result of the PVV’s wishes. The consistent suspicion of Islam and Muslims works.

Religious illiteracy

The basis for the support for these types of measures, in addition to the endlessly repeated PVV rhetoric, is a broad distrust of religion in general and Islam in particular. As we can read in the SCP report Outside church and mosque ongoing secularization has an enormous impact. Also in politics, both right and left. In this context, the SCP expresses its concern that freedom of religion is being threatened.

Rhetoric that would have been shocking twenty-five years ago hardly raises an eyebrow today

Religious illiteracy is nowadays the rule rather than the exception. This causes the understanding of and for religion to decrease. For example, conservative views on, among other things, the place of religion in society, on sexuality, on marriage and on the traditional family are now suspect. They are seen as intolerant and bigoted. By left and by right (with a few exceptions). Diversity should therefore not be about views and ideas.

In such a context, the PVV’s message falls on fertile soil. The mainstream parties have been implementing PVV policy for years. Albeit with a different intention and using a different vocabulary. However, the net result is the same: state Islamophobia. The PVV’s victory is therefore mainly symbolic and a reflection of current policy.


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