Netherlands: Wilders’ imaginary Eurabia

Europe's future, according to Wilders. Photo : Frans Lemmens
Europe's future, according to Wilders. Photo : Frans Lemmens
4 mars 2010 – Mladá Fronta DNES (Prague)

Brandishing the spectre of "the threat of Islam," populist leader Geert Wilders obtained a breakthrough in the 3 March local elections, which will constitute a major step forward in his campaign to become prime minister. For Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes, Muslims are not a real threat to multicultural Dutch society: the main danger is the manner in which the majority of the population intends to live with them.

If Geert Wilders succeeds in obtaining the post of prime minister in the June general elections, for the first time ever an EU state will be governed by a man who believes in the existence of Eurabia — a mythological future continent that will replace modern Europe, where children from Norway to Naples will learn to recite the Koran at school, while their mothers stay at home wearing burqas.

Two years ago, the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) gave a speech in which he argued that Dutch Muslims should be given money to leave the country: "Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!" This is the type of rhetoric that has enabled Wilders to win more votes, because millions of his fellow citizens share his sense of being threatened by a foreign culture.

Obscure ideological delusion

Wilders presents himself as an ardent defender of freedom of speech and, at least on this point, he is not exaggerating. He is currently facing charges of incitement to racial hatred and discrimination, which relate to his comparison of the Koran with Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Close to 40% of the Dutch people support the hearing of the case. However, at the same time there has been a massive upsurge in the the PVV leader's popularity. Wilder's reasoning may be incoherent, but the votes are pouring in. And little by little, Eurabia, which started out as an obscure ideological delusion, is becoming a key campaign issue.

Muslim frustration

In their speeches, which insist on the imminence of a demographic explosion and the dangers of jihad, Wilders and his entourage aim to give the impression that they have perfect knowledge of the nature of future society.

However, serious research tends to paint a different picture. In particular it shows that most Muslims experience a sense of frustration, prompted by social marginalization and having to make do with very low incomes. No doubt this is why they are more than surprised by the claim that they represent a powerful force that is seeking to take over the continent of Europe.

On the contrary, they are willing to accept assimilation and the concomitant adoption of a foreign non-Islamic identity. But for that to happen, they have to obtain secure and well-paid employment. And the process of integrating Muslims in Europe remains very slow moving. In fact, what currently passes for multicultural society might better be termed a system of ghettoisation. Strictly speaking, Muslims pose no real threat. What is dangerous is the manner in which the white majority intends to live with them. And that is also why the insulting of Islam should be a matter for the courts.

Une erreur factuelle ou de traduction ? Signalez-la