The Islamization of Belgium and the Netherlands in 2013

Belgian Salafisrby Soeren Kern:

In January, the gangland shootings of two young Moroccan men in downtown Amsterdam drew renewed attention to the growing problem of violent crime among Muslim immigrants. The two men were gunned down with AK-47 assault rifles in a shooting the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, described as reminiscent of “the Wild West.”

In March, the Dutch public broadcasting system NOS television reported that the Netherlands has become one of the major European suppliers of Islamic jihadists. According to NOS, about 100 Dutch Muslims are active as jihadists in Syria; most have joined the notorious Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group.

Belgium and the Netherlands have some of the largest Muslim communities in the European Union, in percentage terms.

Belgium is home to an estimated 650,000 Muslims, or around 6% of the overall population, based on an average of several statistical estimates. The Netherlands is home to an estimated 925,000 Muslims, which also works out to around 6% of the overall population. Within the EU, only France (7.5%) has more Muslims in relative terms.

Belgian and Dutch cities have significant Muslim populations, comprised mostly of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants, as well as a growing number of converts to Islam.

The number of Muslims in Brussels—where roughly half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live—has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled “Capital of Europe” is now one of the most Islamic cities in Europe.

In 2013, Muslims made up approximately 26% of the population of metropolitan Brussels, followed by Rotterdam (25%), Amsterdam (24%), Antwerp (17%), The Hague (14%) and Utrecht (13%), according to a panoply of research.

Not coincidentally, Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of the debate over Muslim immigration and integration in Europe. What follows is a chronological summary of some of the main stories about the rise of Islam in Belgium and the Netherlands during 2013.

In January, the Belgian branch of the Dutch department store chain HEMA lost a wrongful termination lawsuitfiled by a Muslim shop assistant whose contract was not renewed because she refused to stop wearing a hijab, the traditional Islamic headscarf.

The woman, a Belgian convert to Islam, had been employed as temporary sales staff for two months, during which time she wore the hijab at work. But when customers complained, the store manager asked her to remove the headscarf.

After she refused to comply, HEMA declined to extend her contract in sales, but did offer her an alternative job in its warehouse, where she would not have direct contact with clients. She said the alternative job offer was unsatisfactory and then consulted a lawyer.

Lawyers defending the Belgian shop said that to maintain the “neutral and discreet image of HEMA, the shop did not want employees wearing any kind of religious symbols.”

But a labor court in the nearby Belgian city of Tongeren ruled that HEMA did not have a clearly stated policy on headscarves and thus had no valid justification to dismiss the woman. The court ordered HEMA to pay the 21-year-old woman €9,000 ($12,000), the equivalent of six month’s salary, as compensation.

According to the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, an NGO that helped bring the woman’s case to trial, the main purpose of the legal action was to clarify how far a company can go in seeking to present a “neutral image” to its customers. The NGO believes neutrality cannot be invoked as a genuine and determining occupational requirement, and says it is not self-evident that neutrality can amount to a legitimate goal if and when it is chiefly invoked to please a private company’s clients.

Also in January, the gangland shootings of two young Moroccan men in downtown Amsterdam drew renewed attention to the growing problem of violent crime among Muslim immigrants. The two men were gunned down with AK-47 assault rifles in a shooting the mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, described as reminiscent of “the Wild West.”

According to the Amsterdam-based newspaper Het Parool, young Moroccans continue their “unstoppable march to become the largest group of violent criminals” in the country, despite decades of government programs aimed at steering young Muslims away from a life of crime. Moroccan gangsters specialize mainly in robberies of banks and jewelry stores, as well as in drug trafficking, according to Het Parool.

Meanwhile, the Dutch newspaper Trouw reported that the Protestant Church of the Netherlands is planning to close up to 800 of its 2,000 churches around the country due to the dwindling number of practicing Christians. Critics of the move say many of these buildings are likely to be converted into mosques.

In February, Members of the Belgian Parliament introduced a bill that would limit the power of Muslim extremists who win elected office at the local or national levels and isolate themselves from the political mainstream.

The move came after members of the newly established Islam Party vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

“Belgium Will Become an Islamic State”

by Soeren Kern:

The statements of Mark Elchardus, author of a 426 page study, who linked Islam with anti-Semitism, earned him a lawsuit filed by a Muslim group, which said that his comments violated Belgium’s anti-discrimination law of 2007, which forbids discrimination on the basis of “religious convictions,” and Article 444 of the Belgian penal code as his statements appeared in a newspaper and were therefore repeated extensively in print. Belgian law, however, apparently did not prevent Muslims from resorting to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Two Muslim politicians, who just won municipal elections in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, on October 14, have vowed to implement Islamic Sharia law in Belgium.

The two candidates, Lhoucine Aït Jeddig and Redouane Ahrouch, both from the fledgling Islam Party, won seats in two heavily Islamized municipalities of Brussels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and Anderlecht, respectively.

During a post-election press conference in Brussels on October 25, the two future councilors, who will be officially sworn in on December 3, said they regard their election as key to the assertion of the Muslim community in Belgium.

“We are elected Islamists but above all we are Muslims,” Ahrouch said. “Islam is compatible with the laws of the Belgian people. As elected Muslims, we embrace the Koran and the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed. We believe Islam is a universal religion. Our presence on the town council will give us the opportunity to express ourselves,” said Ahrouch, who refuses to shake hands or make eye contact with females in public.

A one-hour video of the press conference in French has been posted on YouTube. At one point in the video (0:07:40) Ahrouch, 42, says he will strive to make sure that the town council’s “motions and solutions are durable and definitive and will emanate from Islam.”

Ahrouch, who was sentenced to six months in prison in 2003 for the assault and battery of his disabled wife, also spends considerable time talking about ethics in politics and “respect for the other.”

Elsewhere in the video (0:25:40), Aït Jeddig, 50, commends Islam as having paved the way for “the emergence of European civilization.” (He makes no mention of Europe’s Judeo-Christian or Greek-Roman roots.) He also insists that Islam is compatible with freedom and democracy.

The video ends with an interview of a third Islam Party candidate, Abdelhay Bakkali Tahar, 51, who did not garner enough votes to secure a seat in the district of Bruxelles Ville.

The Islam Party, which plans to field candidates in European-level elections in 2014, campaigned on three core issues: ensuring that halal meals are served in public school cafeterias, securing the official recognition of Muslim religious holidays, and pushing for a law that would legalize the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public spaces.

Ahrouch has run for political office before. In 1999, he founded a political party called “Noor: Le Parti Islamique,” which promotes a 40-point program based on Islamic Sharia law. These points include, among other items: 7) abolishing interest payments [riba] in the Belgian banking sector; 10) redesigning the Belgian judiciary to comply with Islamic law; 11) restoring capital punishment; 12) prohibiting alcohol and cigarettes; 15) promoting teenage marriage; 16) segregating males and females in public spaces; 20) outlaw gambling and the lottery; and 39) creating an official Islamic alms fund [Zakat].

Ahrouch says that his ultimate goal, creating an Islamic state in Belgium based on Islamic Sharia law, has not changed.

Read more at Gatestone Institute