Dutch Muslims are Relieved, but Divisions Highlighted by Election Remain
Dutch Muslims are breathing a sigh of relief after the worse-than-expected performance of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders in the recent elections in the Netherlands. “We have trust in the future” of this traditionally welcoming country, said Rasit Bal of the Muslims-Government Contact Organization, an advocacy group, which feared a victory by Wilders’ PVV party would strengthen the anti-immigrant sentiment in the Netherlands.
Wilders, who has been called the “Dutch Trump,” had called for sealing off the border to Muslim immigrants. Despite the result for his PVV party, it still increased its share of the vote to become the second-largest party in Parliament, leaving many worried about its influence. Since the mainstream parties have vowed to exclude Wilders from any ruling coalition, the PVV, which stands in Dutch for the Party for Freedom, could become the key opposition force.
Muslims make up approximately 6 percent of the Dutch population of 17 million. Bal’s organization, which runs government-mandated Islamic education classes for Muslim children in public schools, encourages debate and discussion about cultural integration, especially among the offspring of immigrants. “Their future is here,” he said. “The main challenge is how to connect this new generation to Dutch culture.” But the challenge will also be to keep them tethered to their faith.
(Extracted from http://religionnews.com)