How Dutch Muslim leader reacted to Wilders anti-Koran film
“Our goal is nothing other than working peacefully for our society’s future, the future of our children, but also the future of the Netherlands. Muslims in the Netherlands love this country — they of course criticise some developments, as any citizen. The Netherlands is our country and we will try together with our compatriots to find the right tone … to finally get away from the ongoing polarisation in society, so that we can finally get on with our daily lives and don’t have to be afraid of each other.” — Mohammed Rabbae, Chairman of the National Moroccan Council of the Netherlands
The day after Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders showed his anti-Koran film on the Internet, warning of Islam as a threat to Western civilisation, Dutch-Moroccan leader Rabbae had separate messages for his compatriots in the Netherlands and for fellow Muslims abroad. Speaking to Dutch and foreign journalists in the El Ouma mosque in Amsterdam, he sought to assure the Dutch that Muslims considered themselves part of society, had no sympathy for violent extremism and respected the law and the constitution. “What people feel threatened by also threatens us. What threatens Westerners also threatens us. There is no difference,” he said.
He urged Muslims abroad to respect this. “We want to tell our Muslims brothers and sisters abroad, in the Middle East, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia etc, that we as Muslims in the Netherlands are best positioned to analyse the situation in the Netherlands, and to determine the response to Wilders and others … I am appealing to our brothers and sisters abroad to follow our strategy, not to frustrate our strategy by any violent incidents or an attack to a Dutch embassy,” he said.
“Looking for conflict with the Netherlands there is looking for conflict with us. We are indivisibly Dutch, indivisibly citizens of this country.”
This presents an interesting contrast to the reaction of some Danish Muslim leaders who went to the Middle East seeking support from fellow Muslims for their protests against the Prophet Mohammad cartoons. We know what that lead to. Rabbae stresses his Dutch identity as much as his Muslim identity and tells fellow Muslims abroad to respect the way Dutch Muslims have chosen to react to the Wilders film. There have been verbal official protests in the Muslim world and some loud street demonstrations, but so far not the violence seen after the Danish cartoons were published.