Summary Paragraph: The government and NGOs reported hundreds of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, the most recent year for which figures were available. Most consisted of verbal or written harassment or insults, threats, or vandalism, and several involved violence. An EU survey found 30 percent of Muslims in the country said they had experienced religious discrimination during the previous five years, and that Muslims’ feeling of attachment to the country was the second lowest among 15 European countries surveyed. Groups regularly staged protests against Islamic institutions, and internet sites described Muslims as threats. Police registered 26 incidents of anti-Semitic chants at soccer matches in 2016, and CIDI reported use of “Jew” as a term of insult was common. There were incidents of vandalism during the year against Jewish and Muslim targets. CIDI reported 21 incidents of vandalism against Jewish sites in 2016; a report by an Amsterdam academic cited 72 attacks or threats against mosques in the same year.
There were reports of violence, threats, discrimination, verbal abuse, and vandalism against Muslims and Jews. Agencies collecting data on such incidents stated many occurrences went unreported. Because religion and ethnicity are often closely linked, it was difficult to categorize many incidents as being solely based on religious identity.
The police registered 352 incidents, including harassment, verbal abuse, and vandalism against Muslims in 2016, compared with 439 in the previous year. Antidiscrimination boards registered 250 incidents in 2016, 10 more than in 2015. The Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet (MDI), an NGO, and the government’s internet discrimination hotline (MIND) cumulatively registered 251 inflammatory statements against Muslims in 2016, compared with 472 in 2015.
The police registered 335 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, compared with 428 incidents in 2015. Of these, 198 incidents concerned verbal harassment or insults. Many involved use of the epithet “Jew,” as a general insult.
CIDI reported 109 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, compared with 126 in the previous year. According to CIDI, persons who were recognizable as Jewish because of dress or outward appearance, for instance wearing a yarmulke, were sometimes targets of direct confrontations. Incidents included three physical assaults in 2016. In one incident, a janitor of Moroccan origin got into a fight with a colleague, deriding his Jewish origin. CIDI registered fewer incidents (10) of bullying and verbal harassment of Jewish students because of their religion in and around schools, but an increase in total cases of verbal abuse incidents (25) and incidents in public and traditional media (four). CIDI registered fewer hate emails (seven), which it said some analysts attributed, not to a decline in hate speech on the internet, but to a shift towards more hate speech on social media. There were 21 incidents of vandalism, according to CIDI.
The NIHR reported receiving 24 complaints in 2016 about religious discrimination in the workplace.
In June the nonprofit Verwey Jonker Institute published the results of its government-commissioned research into which factors determine positive or negative perceptions of Muslims. The goal of the research was to help authorities determine how to design policies to redress anti-Muslim discrimination. The institute surveyed 3,790 youths aged 12-23 and 2,020 older adults. It found more negative views of Muslims among boys and young men (33 percent) than among girls and young women (15 percent). The most negative views of Muslims were among less-educated male youths (35 percent), many of whom had little to no contact with Muslims, often basing their opinions on media reports of Muslim crimes and Muslim cultural views towards women and others. According to the institute, these youths often viewed Muslims as a threat to national culture or the economy, and/or feared Muslims wanted to rule the country. Most of these youths, however, disapproved of physical actions against Muslims.
A September 21 survey by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights reported 72 percent of the nation’s Muslims believed religious or ethnic discrimination was widespread in the country. Thirty percent of Muslims stated they had experienced discrimination because of their religion over the previous five years. Muslims’ feeling of attachment to the country (3.4 on a five-point scale) was the second lowest of the 15 EU countries surveyed. Research by the SCP from December 2016 found 60 percent of ethnic Turks and Moroccans, the two largest ethnic minorities, reported feeling connected with the country. Among ethnic Turkish and Moroccan youths, the percentage was significantly lower, with only 44 percent and 52 percent, respectively, reporting feeling connected with the country.
The PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) and Identitair Verzet (Identity Resistance) movements regularly staged protests against Islamic institutions. For example, on September 4, two activists displayed a banner in front of a new secondary Islamic school in Amsterdam saying, “those who sow Islam harvest the Sharia,” and on September 2, activists displayed banners at a building site of a new mosque in Venlo with texts such as “No mosque in our neighborhood” and “No Jihad in our street.” On September 1, six PEGIDA members protested the installation of a Muslim mayor in the town of Arnhem, stating they feared it would result in the Islamization of the provincial capital.
On January 12, the Amsterdam District Court convicted four men for offending and discriminating against Jews. They had participated in a 2016 demonstration in Amsterdam organized by the Netherlands People’s Party, carrying neo-Nazi banners and wearing anti-Semitic nose stickers. The court fined them 600 to 800 euros ($720 to $960) and sentenced them to 40-60 hours of community service.
CIDI called for more specific measures to stop anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches. In 2016, the police registered 26 such incidents in and around the soccer field.
CIDI also expressed concern about the use of “Jew” as a general term of insult in the public sphere. For example, individuals often called police officers, in particular, “Jew.”
MDI reported 64 instances of anti-Semitic language on the internet in 2016 (7 percent of the total number of incidents of intolerance on the internet), compared with 46 incidents in 2015 (also 7 percent of the total.) MDI concluded two thirds of the expressions were not punishable under the law.
On August 24, The Hague District Court ruled that the suspension of a civil servant, Yasmina Haifi, at the Ministry of Justice and Security in 2014 for tweeting “ISIS is a premeditated plan by Zionists” was too severe a punishment, as the employee was exercising her right to free speech. The court decreed a written reprimand would have sufficed. Haifi remained employed at the Ministry of Justice in a different capacity.
Internet blogs PowNed News and GeenStijl conducted discussions on the role of Muslims and Islam in society, in which the sites described Muslims as cultural and political threats as well as sources of hatred.
In late April MIND received several complaints that the Altrechts.com website published a list of alleged “public enemies,” including citizens with a migrant background, and “Dutch Jews,” who were described as “alien organisms.” CIDI filed a complaint with police and demanded the list be removed as soon as possible. The internet service provider took the website offline, and police initiated an investigation. A government spokesperson said, “The cabinet regards the list’s publication as repugnant.”
Organizers disinvited hip-hop group Broederliefde from performing at the May 5 Liberation Day festival because a video surfaced in which a member of the group, rapper Emms, shouted anti-Semitic slogans such as “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” during a soccer match.
In April city workers in Amsterdam removed and relocated a small plaque placed near the entrance to a residential house commemorating a Holocaust victim who had lived there. A couple living in the house sued the city to have the plaque removed altogether, saying it placed an emotional burden on them and attracted visitors, compromising their right to privacy. After public protests, the couple dropped their suit. They said the plaque reminded them too much of their deceased child, but they valued the memory of all Holocaust victims.
On December 9, police arrested a former asylum seeker, waving a Palestinian flag and a piece of wood, after he smashed several windows of a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam. In response, parliamentarians from the Liberal and Christina Union parties dined at the restaurant in a show of support.
On Liberation Day, May 5, the apartment of a Jewish woman in Apeldoorn was vandalized when the Star of David and the word “whore” were scratched on her front door.
On February 20, individuals defaced a mosque in the town of Waalwijk with obscene graffiti. Around the same time, several mosques received threatening letters with swastikas and calling Islam “a false and devilish religion.”
CIDI reported 21 incidents of vandalism in 2016. Incidents included destruction of property, such as a mezuzah, or the writing of anti-Semitic graffiti on walls, such as “Jew=Israel=Nazi,” on May 7 in Bilthoven; “Hamas, all Jews to the gas,” on May 25 in a village in North Holland Province; and “Jews should burn,” on March 25 in The Hague.
In March Ineke van der Valk, a University of Amsterdam professor, published The Third Monitor on Muslim Discrimination, which included a survey of threats, vandalism, and other acts against mosques. The report cited 72 incidents in 2016, the highest number since it began monitoring in 2005.
In Amsterdam, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian groups and a number of NGOs, including the Council of Churches, Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation, and Humanist Alliance, established the Security Pact Against Discrimination, an organization to combat anti-Muslim and other forms of discrimination.
On March 4, approximately 300 Muslims and non-Muslims gathered at the Al Kabir Mosque in Amsterdam to show support for Muslims and to counter “hateful stories” about Muslims. “Politicians, stop saying that the Netherlands is threatened by Islam,” said Adbou Menebhi of the NGO Collective against Islamophobia.
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 how to teach students about the Holocaust, especially in the face of prejudices by students toward the Jewish community. CIDI also led workshops for police and prosecutors at the police academy to help them recognize anti-Semitism.
The Liberal Jewish Community of Amsterdam continued with its program of reaching 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 with existing initiatives to bring Muslims and Jews together. For example, the Salaam-Shalom NGO in Amsterdam through its “Mo&Moos” (Mohammed and Moshe) program and SPIOR (the umbrella organization of Islamic organizations in the Rotterdam region), in Rotterdam again brought together young Muslim and Jewish professionals to encourage leadership on interfaith issues. The NGO INS Platform continued to operate a website where citizens could meet “ordinary” Muslims in an effort to overcome prejudice. In Amstelveen, the Jewish-Muslim Alliance Amstelland (a collaboration between Jewish and Muslim groups and local authorities to advance understanding between Jews and Muslims), Mo&Moos, the Jewish group Bendigamos, and local political parties organized meetings to discuss safety, discrimination against Jews and Muslims, religion, and education.