There were reports of violence, threats, discrimination, verbal abuse, and vandalism against Muslims and Jews. Agencies collecting data on such incidents stated many occurrences were never reported. The police and various monitoring bodies, including anti-discrimination boards, reported a sharp increase of incidents of discrimination against Muslims after terrorist attacks in Europe in 2015. In 2015, the most recent year for which figures were available, the police registered 439 incidents, including of violence, harassment, and verbal abuse, against Muslims, compared to 206 in 2014, and the antidiscrimination boards registered 240 incidents, compared with 165 in 2014. SPIOR registered 231 reports of incidents of violence and discrimination in the Rotterdam area between January 2015 and March 2016. Over the same period, Rotterdam police only received reports of 41 incidents against Muslims. The Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet (MDI), an NGO, recorded 330 expressions against Muslims on the internet in 2015, compared to 219 in 2014, while the government’s internet discrimination hotline (MIND) recorded 142 expressions against Muslims in 2015, compared to 20 in 2014.
The police registered 428 complaints of discrimination against Jews in 2015, compared to 358 in 2014. CIDI, which tracked anti-Semitic incidents, except for those occurring online, reported 126 incidents in 2015 compared with 171 in 2014, but qualified the 2015 figure as “still higher than the normal level in a year without military intervention in Israel.” There were five incidents of physical violence, which CIDI said was relatively high, and fewer incidents of harassment in the street and through email. In one incident, a non-Jewish woman married to a Moroccan Jew was confronted by the parents of her daughter’s classmates at school over her relationship. A man grabbed the woman by the throat, called her a “Jew’s whore,” and threatened to shoot her. There were 18 incidents of vandalism. CIDI also reported 16 incidents at schools, the highest number of such incidents it recorded in a decade. There were twice as many incidents (10) of anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches than in 2014. According to CIDI, those who were recognizable as Jewish because of dress or outward appearance, for instance wearing a yarmulke, were sometimes targets of direct confrontations.
MDI received 142 reports of online expressions of anti-Semitism and/or Holocaust denial in 2015, compared to 328 in 2014; and MIND received 46, compared to 31 in 2014.
In their annual report on racism, anti-Semitism, and extreme violence in the country in 2015, the Verwey Jonker Institute and Anne Frank Foundation reported 57 incidents of anti-Semitism, compared to 76 in 2014, and 424 incidents of anti-Semitic shouting, compared to 710 in 2014. Incidents of anti-Semitism included 18 incidents of insults, 12 cases of threats, two cases of bullying, and five cases of physical abuse. In one incident, three boys threw a brick at two men on the way to a synagogue; the brick missed its target. In another, a man yelled at a Jewish man in an elevator of an apartment building, leading to a fight.
On April 29, half a dozen men assaulted a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf on a tram in Rotterdam. The perpetrators poured beer over her and tore off her headscarf. SPIOR Director Marianne Vorthoren said women and children were often victims of anti-Muslim discrimination. She also said that the physical and verbal abuse often went unreported due to fear of retaliation from the perpetrators. She added that bystanders rarely intervened or reported incidents to the police, leaving perpetrators free to engage in harassment without fear of consequences.
Christians complained about intimidation by Muslims in asylum centers. According to managers of refugee centers, there were instances of scuffles or fights between individual refugees, often of different religions, but there were no riots or incidents of mass violence.
In April Ynetnews, an Israeli news site, reported an upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents in the country. The article quoted the country’s Chief Rabbi, Benjamin Jacobs, as saying, “People are debating removing the mezuzahs from their doorposts, since they identify them as Jews.”
The Ministry of Education commissioned a report on discrimination in education, which commented extensively on deep-rooted anti-Semitism in classrooms in certain schools with a high percentage of migrant Muslim students and how teachers felt helpless combatting these sometimes violent sentiments. The report cited one Amsterdam high school teacher, who recalled an incident in which a female student of Moroccan descent stood up and pronounced, “If I had a Kalashnikov [automatic rifle], I’d gun down all the Jews.”
Platform Integration & Society (KIS), an NGO, reported March 21 that girls wearing headscarves had more difficulty finding an internship required for college graduation than other students.
In June a man sustained anti-Semitic verbal abuse from several motorists after hanging his son’s schoolbag from the pole of an Israeli flag in celebration of his son’s high school graduation. Passers-by yelled “rotten Jews,” “we’re going to get you, cancer Zionists,” and “rotten Zionists.”
On June 13, a court convicted a man of hate speech and sentenced him to two weeks in prison for posting signs with swastikas on his windows reading “Turks go away” and “Gas Jews.”
In May CIDI filed complaints with the police against soccer fans chanting “My father is with the commandos and my mother with the SS. Together they burn Jews because Jews burn the best.” The police responded that they were “looking into” the incident.
Other anti-Semitic incidents took place over email, social media, and other online venues. For example, there were reports a Jewish man tweeting about developments in Turkey received messages such as “Hey, Jew, the best thing that ever happened to you is that Hitler, the best man, has existed.” In another case, a Jewish teacher reportedly received an online message from students calling her “Cancer Jew.”
Professor Ineke van der Valk of the University of Amsterdam, researcher of anti-Muslim sentiment and discrimination, stated mosques often did not report incidents in order to avoid publicity or increased attention. She recorded 18 incidents against mosques in the first two months of 2016, including vandalism, attempted arson, threatening letters, and the hanging of pigs’ heads.
On February 27, individuals threw Molotov cocktails at a mosque in Enschede, causing a minor fire. Authorities arrested five men and tried and convicted them on October 27 of attempted arson with terrorist intent. The court sentenced the men to four years’ imprisonment, of which one year was suspended.
In January a pig’s head was found outside of the Turkish Hakyol mosque in Mijdrecht.
In February, 10 mosques received threatening letters containing swastikas and texts with messages such as, “You will soon receive important visitors, pigs,” and “Islam is the devil’s religion.”
Individuals left dead pigs and pigs’ heads at refugee centers, where many refugees were Muslim. Because religion and ethnicity are often closely linked, it was difficult to categorize many incidents as being solely based on religious identity. In January the police removed two dead pigs from a proposed center for 500 refugees in the Brabant village of Heesch. Signs nearby read “the people say no to the AZC (asylum center) and 500 is too many.” In February media reported two dead pigs were found at a potential site for a refugee center in the city of Ede. A day earlier in Ede, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West), a European nationalist group founded in Germany, had protested against an inflow of refugees into the city. During the protest, PEGIDA’s leader in the country, Edwin Wagensveld, was arrested for refusing to remove a hat shaped like a pig.
On August 15, slogans were spray-painted on an elementary school building and on twenty houses in the town of Voorburg, including “ISIS” and “Kill all Jews.”
CIDI continued to conduct programs to counter prejudice against Jews and other minorities in schools. CIDI again invited 25 teachers to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem for a seminar on Holocaust education. CIDI led workshops for the police and prosecutors at the police academy to help them recognize anti-Semitism.
The Liberal Jewish Community of Amsterdam continued to reach out to youth in the Get to Know Your Neighbors project, which invited students into its synagogue to introduce them to a temple and explain Jewish practices.
Multiple groups continued to organize initiatives to bring Muslims and Jews together. For example, the Salaam-Shalom NGO in Amsterdam and the “Mo&Moos” initiative (short for Mohammed and Moshe) brought together young Muslim and Jewish professionals in Amsterdam to encourage leadership on interfaith issues. In Rotterdam SPIOR organized similar activities. The INS Platform, an NGO, created a website where citizens could meet “ordinary” Muslims in an effort to overcome prejudice.
Jewish groups welcomed the Protestant Church’s official condemnation in April of anti-Jewish statements made by Martin Luther 500 years earlier.