AMSTERDAM – Amsterdam mosque welcomed hundreds of Dutch citizens on Sunday, March 5, who came to show solidarity with the country’s Muslim population, following anti-Islam MP vows to shut mosque and ban Qur’an should he win upcoming elections.
“It’s very important that we make our voice heard. We as a Muslim community pose no danger whatsoever to society,” Najem Ouladali, one of the organizers of the meeting, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday.
“In fact, we are victims too of Islamic extremism,” added another speaker, Abdou Menebhi, who chairs a Moroccan organization in The Netherlands.
Some 200 people representing a broad coalition against racism in The Netherlands gathered at the central Al-Kabir mosque, saying they were deeply worried about the rise of discrimination against Muslims in the European country.
The gathering came as a response to hateful rhetoric by Dutch firebrand far-right MP Geert Wilders, who is campaigning ahead of elections on an anti-Islam ticket.
The 53-year-old Wilders has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and his incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks.
He has vowed in his party’s one-page manifesto that if elected he would ban the sale of Qur’ans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants.
Support however for Wilders and his extreme stance seems to have withered in recent days according to the latest polls.
“We believe that what Wilders is doing is very dangerous to our society,” Ouladali said after the mosque meeting.
Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.
In 2008, Wilders released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur’an of inciting violence.
In 2013, Google has deactivated the mail account of Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders following complaints that the anti-Islam politician was using it to spread anti Islam initiative.
In May 2014, Wilders has put his country in hot water after distributing stickers with the Saudi-flag, replacing the text of the shahada with anti-Islam slurs, after which the Kingdom slapped indirect sanctions on the European country.