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Muslim party to take part in Dutch local elections; Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague included

Amsterdam, Aug. 3, 2009 [DutchAmsterdam.nl] — The Nederlandse Moslim Partij (NMP), or Dutch Muslim Party will take part in local elections in five Dutch municipalities next year, Dutch press agency ANP reports.

Party leader Henny Kreeft, who converted to Islam in the nineties, announced that the party will take part in local elections in Amsterdam, Almere, The Hague, Rotterdam and Noordoostpolder.

Kreeft says he is talking with local NMP chapters in five other municipalities, but he did not say which ones.

The party, founded in 2007, includes both native Dutch and ‘allochtone‘ men and women. It aims to present a more positive image of Islam.

Muslims in the Netherlands

There were 945,000 Muslims living in the Netherlands on 1 January [2004], double the amount in 1990, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said on Monday. The number is expected to reach 1 million in 2006.

The increase in the number of Muslims is due to both Immigration and natural population growth and the CBS said 38 percent of the non-western Muslims is second generation immigrants. This percentage has increased in the past six years.

Most Muslims live in the Amsterdam region, with 13 percent of the population Islamic. This is followed by The Hague (11.4) and Rotterdam (10.2), while in Friesland and Drenthe, the Islamic community makes up less than 2 percent of the population.
– Source: Netherlands Islamic community to hit 1 million in 2006, Expatica, Sep. 20, 2004, quoted at Religion News Blog

However, in October 2007 the Central Bureau of Statistics reported:

According to the latest figures issued by Statistics Netherlands, approximately 5 percent of the Dutch population, i.e. 850 thousand persons, were followers of Islam in 2006.
– Source: More than 850 thousand Muslims in the Netherlands, Central Bureau of Statistics, Oct. 25, 2007

The difference in numbers came about due to a switch in the way the statistics were gathered.

Many native Dutch people have expresses fears that Muslims would negatively change Holland’s traditional ‘climate’ of tolerance. The vast majority of people from the 176 nationalities represented in Amsterdam have little to no problem adapting to Dutch norms and values.

By contrast, those who come from an Islamic background have significantly more trouble intergrating into Dutch society.

At one point the Dutch government went as far as to produce a DVD, clearly aimed at conservative Muslim immigrants, meant to help determine whether they really wanted to settle in Holland:

The new test for foreigners who want to apply for Dutch residency is, well, very Dutch.

It features a DVD that illustrates various aspects of Dutch life, including, most notably, a topless woman frolicking in the surf and two men kissing warmly. The message couldn’t be more explicit: This is who we are; if you don’t accept it, don’t come.

Although the DVD doesn’t single out any particular group, the intended target of the message is clear. Growing numbers of conservative Muslim immigrants are seen by many Dutch as posing a threat to the Netherlands’ liberal consensus and easygoing lifestyle.
– Source: Dutch to Muslims: Do you really want to settle here? Chicago Tribune, Apr. 9, 2006, quoted at Religion News Blog

Yet British newspaper The Observer recently wrote, “Five years ago bombings and riots fuelled anxiety that Europe’s Muslims were on the verge of mass radicalisation. Those predictions have not been borne out.”

Polls, for example, have found that Muslim communities are profoundly influenced by their countries of residence.

So in France, where 45% of people said in a survey that adultery is morally acceptable, so did a high proportion of local Muslims. In Germany, where 73% of the population is opposed to capital punishment, the view was shared by exactly the same percentage of local Muslims. In Britain, where there is greater popular hostility to pornography, this is mirrored in the British Muslim community.

“National differences are very evident. French Muslims have absorbed the values of France, and are more secular than their German counterparts, for example,” said Rheault. Over time, this trend deepens. The Dutch Statistics Bureau’s last report on integration reported that in terms of norms, opinions and behaviour … second-generation [Dutch migrants] are much more orientated towards Dutch society than their parents.
– Source: Fears of an Islamic revolt in Europe begin to fade, The Observer, July 26, 2009, quoted at Religion News Blog.

In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by an Islamic extremist motivated by hate. The murderer was sentenced to life without parole.

In the aftermath of Van Gogh’s murder there was a period of racial tension — which quickly subsided when no further Islam-inspired hate crimes took place.

Still, many Dutch people support the hardline statements of populist politician Geert Wilders, who wants Muslims to integrate or get out of the country.

Meanwhile many Dutch Muslims mirror a trend among Christians, of whom ever fewer attend church. While 48 percent of Dutch people identify themselves as Christians, only one in five regularly attend a church service. Of the 825.000-850.000 Muslims, only 35 percent regularly visit a mosque — versus 47 percent in 1998. “Half the Muslim population goes seldom or never,” the Central Bureau of Statistics says.

Another way in which religious Muslims mirror Christians is in personalizing their faith — deciding which doctrines and practices to accept or reject. Among Muslims in Holland this trend is referred to as Polder Islam — a play on the term Polder Model.

Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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