Offensive and discriminatory language used against minority groups in the Netherlands
In February 2017, Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders launched his election campaign using offensive language about the Moroccan community in the Netherlands. He promised to reduce the number of Moroccans in the country and to ban Muslim immigration and close mosques, should he win in the March parliamentary elections. This incident occurred two months after he was convicted of inciting discrimination. Wilders - a controversial, far-right and anti-EU MP - was eventually defeated by centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the 15th March parliamentary election.
In mid-March 2017, a Dutch journalist of Turkish origin received death threats by alleged supporters of Turkey’s authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Hakan Büyük, an editor at Zaman Vandaag newspaper, had reported on the hypocrisy he found in the Turkish government's outcry over the Dutch government's prohibition against two Turkish ministers from speaking at political rallies in Dutch cities due to security concerns, while the Turkish authorities have intensified their crackdown on critics and opponents at home.
Another Turkey-born Dutch journalist was targeted with threats originating from Turkey that prompted the Dutch authorities to adopt protection measures for the journalist. Basri Doğan, who also works at Zaman Vandaag newspaper, was publicly named as a terrorist in a network controlled by an ally of the Turkish president. Once alerted of the threats, Dutch police immediately provided security for Doğan. The journalist told Stockholm Center for Freedom that he had filed criminal complaints with the Dutch authorities, but still fears for his safety after being targeted publicly on a live TV broadcast.
Dutch police officer prays at Amsterdam's Al Kabir mosque, after a meeting to show solidarity with Muslims and protest racism (Peter Dejong) pic.twitter.com/SBA3C3Qp0Z— Justin Pickard (@justinpickard) March 6, 2017
In mid-February 2017, the Public Prosecution Service ruled that police officers who had violently arrested members of the group 'Kick out Black Pete' during the St Nicholas festival in Rotterdam in November 2016 had acted appropriately in the situation, and therefore no one was prosecuted. The group was protesting against the traditional use of black faces during the annual holiday. The CIVICUS Monitor reported on the incident shortly after it happened and included a video clearly showing police officers dragging activists from a bus and punching one of them - black activist Jerry Afriyie - in the face.
In response to increasing cases of hate inducing speech, hundreds of Dutch citizens representing a broad coalition against racism in the country gathered at the central Al-Kabir mosque in Amsterdam on 5th March 2017. Around 200 people assembled at the mosque to express concern over growing discrimination against Muslims and to show solidarity with the country's Muslim community. Incidents of discrimination have almost doubled in the Netherlands since 2015, and at least 54 such cases have included threats against mosques and the use of Nazi symbols.
In early April, protests were held across the Netherlands in support of a gay couple who had been physically and verbally attacked while holding hands. Solidarity rallies took place in Arnhem, where the incident had occurred, as well as Eindhoven, The Hague and Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, two thousand people walked hand-in-hand through the city. Across the country, numerous men started to hold hands in solidarity with victims of homophobic violence. An online campaign, #allemannenhandinhand, was also launched to raise public awareness.