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Former Far-Right Dutch Politician Recounts His Journey to Islam

Four years ago, former Islamophobe politician Joram Van Klaveren took a decision to embrace the faith he has been fighting for a decade. That faith was Islam.

Born in 1979 in Amsterdam to a devout Calvinist family, Klaveren was interested in different belief systems since his youth.

“As a youngster, I had some doubts about the Christian theology, for example about the Trinity, because sometimes I was kind of confused,” Van Klaveren told Anadolu Agency.

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“If you were praying, are we praying to Jesus Christ? Are we praying to God the father? Are we praying to the Holy Spirit? I didn’t know in a way.”

After 9/11 attacks and a 2004 attack on a famous filmmaker, he took the decision to join the Islamophobic Freedom Party, led by Islamophobe Geert Wilders.

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However, he left the party later in 2004 due to Wilders’ arguments about Moroccan people in the Netherlands. “Well, I did, I think everything I could to fight Islam. But in 2014 I left the party because there was this argument about Moroccan people.”

Writing a book in 2014 to “warn people” about Muslims, some questions about Christianity popped up again.

“I thought, well, I have to reread the things that I thought I knew about Christianity as well, because I made a comparison between the concept of God in Christianity and in Islam,” he said.

“And in the end I thought, well, it’s a little bit more logical what Muslims believe than what Christians believe on this concept of God.”

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Two Islams

Seeking answers on Islam, he asked English academic Abdal Hakim Murad, formerly known as Timothy John before converting to Islam, for help.

“Then in the end I got like almost 2 Islams. Of course there’s just one Islam, but I got the Islam from the Orientalists, the Westerners, the people who were not Muslim, and (then later) the ‘real deal’ Islam as it (really) is.”

Taking the decision to become a Muslim, he believes one of the things that fuels Islamophobia is mass culture, depicting Muslims as terrorists especially in Hollywood movies.

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“I think that’s the biggest problem nowadays, you have media. And the media portrays (this) because negative news sells,” Van Klaveren said.

“So the negative things like terrorist attacks and stuff like that, that’s constantly repeating, repeating and that’s of course shapes the mind of a lot of people who are already biased.”​​​​​​​

Converting to Islam, he followed in the footsteps of Arnoud Van Doorn, another former PVV member who converted to Islam in April 2012.

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Both politicians are not the only members of European far-right parties who have found Islam.

Maxence Buttey, a councilor in the eastern Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand, also converted to Islam in January 2016, sending a video message to fellow officials of anti-immigration Front National party to praise the Muslims’ holy book, the Qur’an, and asking them to join him.

Arthur Wagner, another member of a far-right German party, also converted to Islam in 2018, leaving his position on the party’s national executive committee.