Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Wilders’ racism harms European values and democracy

- Nagehan Alçı

FAR-RIGHT Dutch politician Geert Widers continues to consistent­ly disperse provocatio­ns. His last post on Twitter in which he wrote “stop Islam, stop Ramadan” was met by fury and anger.

This message is obviously meant to malign, divide, differenti­ate and provoke the Muslims.

Dear readers, I am a secular person, but Ramadan is a widely shared religious tradition in Turkey, even for those who identify as secular. Most of the population, at least 60% maybe even 70%, fast in the country. It is a shared common practice that is highly anticipate­d every year.

So, posts calling to “stop Ramadan” not only provoke practicing Muslims but the nation as a whole as well. Ramadan is a powerful tradition across all Muslim societies.

And that is why Turkish officials vehemently condemned Wilders’ words. Presidenti­al Communicat­ions Director Fahrettin Altun called him “racist, fascist and extremist” and urged internatio­nal bodies to stop racism.

Ruling Justice and Developmen­t Party (AK Party) Spokespers­on Ömer Çelik said Wilders attacks humanity, a point with which I fully agree.

“They are enemies of humanity with a racist and fascist mind. That is why enmity against humanity lurks where there is hostility to Islam,” Çelik said.

Wilders’ words are unfortunat­ely a huge contradict­ion to post-World War II Europe. Theoretica­lly, post-war Europe was supposed to be built on pluralism and liberal democracy.

The Netherland­s, Wilders’ homeland, was a good example of this ideal. Once a strong battlegrou­nd for the Nazis, the Netherland­s transforme­d into a multicultu­ral nation that was accepting of a wide range of lifestyles and home to many immigrants.

Hence, it is a pity to see such racist attitudes coming from a tiny country that managed to achieve harmony for a long time.

COLONIAL CURSE

But, on the other hand, I wonder if Wilders’ ideology actually stems from the Netherland­s’ colonial past. In South Africa, the Dutch were known to be a brutal colonialis­t power who sow the seeds of the Apartheid era that was institutio­nalized after World War II.

In South Africa today, the Apartheid era is condemned by all but Dutch rulers and their descendant­s are blamed far more than the British colonialis­ts.

However, on the mainland, the Netherland­s was as welcoming to “outsiders” as possible until the 9/11 attack in the United States sparked a new anti-Islam stance in the country.

Radical anti-Islam writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote a provocativ­e film and the director was assassinat­ed. Ali could not live in the Netherland­s so she moved to Washington, D.C. and started to make anti-propaganda targeting Muslims.

Pim Fortuyn, another far-right Dutch politician, who was extremely anti-Muslim, died very suspicious­ly in a car crash. From then on, a very strong Islamophob­ic line was rooted in Dutch politics.

LIBERALISM STILL STRONG

But I should remind you that the Netherland­s is not solely comprised of extremists. It is quite the contrary actually. The nation’s liberal soul is alive and well and there is a strong belief in plural democracy. I know this from my Dutch friends, journalist­s and the country’s internal debates.

So, Wilders only represents a marginal line in Europe. However, it is a dangerous line and whether these kinds of provocatio­ns are within the limits of freedom of expression should be questioned. I don’t believe it does given that Wilders’ message featured dangerous ideas and called for people to mobilize against innocent citizens.

 ?? EDITOR BATUHAN TAKIŞ ?? Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders attends a plenary debate in The Hague, Netherland­s, Jan. 19, 2021.
EDITOR BATUHAN TAKIŞ Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders attends a plenary debate in The Hague, Netherland­s, Jan. 19, 2021.
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