In a new interview in the Dutch magazine Panorama, Geert Wilders talks about a variety of things, including his forthcoming book about Islam, which will be published in the U.S. in April. In it, he says, he’ll document the fact that “Islam is a dangerous ideology” and that “Muhammed really is one of the big bad guys” of history, whose negative influence continues to be felt today. Yes, Wilders acknowledges, there are genuinely moderate people who call themselves Muslims, and if they want to call themselves Muslims that’s fine with him – but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.
What, asks the interviewer, is his great fear? Answer: that “if we don’t put an end to Islamization, it will slowly but surely insinuate itself into our society, at the cost of our freedom. And bit by bit things will go the wrong way. That’s why I’m extending this warning. Otherwise someday our children and grandchildren won’t have freedom any more.” To which the interviewer replies: “And if people say: come on, Geert, it’s not really so bad, is it?…What do you say then?” “I say: it’s worse than you think.”
It’s hard to believe that in the year 2011 there exist Dutchmen – outside of the perennially clueless cultural elite, that is – who are still able to believe that things aren’t “really so bad.” But, alas, there are. There are.
To be sure, thanks largely to pressure from Wilders and his Freedom Party, the last few years have seen reforms in Dutch immigration and integration policies. But has it been too little, too late? For the unfortunate fact is that one set of indicators after another continues to head south. Take a new report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and produced by Risbo, a research institute at Erasmus University. It shows that of males in the Netherlands’ “Moroccan community” between the ages of 12 and 24, no fewer than 38.7 percent have come to the attention of the police at least once during the last five years in connection with some offense – mostly violent crimes and thefts.
The winner in this dubious sweepstakes is the historic city of Den Bosch, about fifty miles south of Amsterdam. In Den Bosch, just under half of young Moroccan males between 12 and 24 – 47.7 percent, to be exact – have police records. (That’s up from 45 percent last year.) In a long list of other cities – Zeist, Gouda, Veenendaal, Amersfoort, Maassluis, Oosterhout, Schiedam, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Ede, Leiden, and The Hague – the figure also topped 40 percent. In every municipality that was studied, incidentally, the scores for Moroccan youths far outstripped those for ethnic Dutch kids, among whom an average of 13 percent of boys in the same age cohort had come in for similar police attention during the same period.
One person who knows a good deal about the Dutch Moroccan youth milieu is filmmaker Roy Dames, who spent eight years – imagine! – working on Mocros, a documentary about young Moroccans in Rotterdam. (The film opened on November 10 in Amsterdam and Nijmegen, and will be aired on Dutch TV early next year.) In an interview with the Dutch edition of Metro, Dames, whose previous work includes documentaries about criminals, prostitutes, alcoholics, and homeless people, says that he “wanted to make a documentary about the Moroccan boys in the street, the street kids that you see everywhere. In 2002, when I started Mocros, Moroccan boys had a poor image. They still do. Many Moroccan boys are kicked out of school, cause trouble in the streets, and are in danger of leading a life of crime.”
The ones he’s been following around all these years with his camera now average about twenty-three years old. They’re on welfare and get “an occasional job.” One of them has spent some time in prison. It’s not easy to get them to open up, he says, because they “live in a culture of silence and shame” in which pressure from family, friends, and community “is enormous.”
Spending all these years in the company of these youths hasn’t exactly protected Dames from their not-so-chummy side. At one point he was filming a (shall we say) uncongenial encounter between thirty of his young subjects and some hapless “youth workers” when suddenly the boys “turned on me” aggressively. Dames jumped in his car and sped off just in time – and had to put the project on hold for six months. (Apparently it took that long for the kids to cool down.)
One gathers that while Dames has a certain degree of sympathy for at least some of these kids, he also doesn’t pull any punches, and shows things how they are – which is not pretty. (A snotty little review in De Telegraaf gripes that the film, intentionally or not, will confirm all the prejudices of ethnic Dutch viewers – and the reviewer ends with that line, as if to make it clear that the last thing he wants to do is to explore the disturbing implications of this observation.)
It seems significant that the profile of Dames appeared in the Dutch edition of Metro, of all places. Metro is a chain of urban newspapers that can be picked up for free in subway stations and other such places (the Dutch trains are always full of discarded copies), and over the years I’ve noticed that the Dutch and Swedish editions of Metro are – scandalously – often the only places you’ll find news stories that are too politically incorrect for those countries’ “real” media to touch. Apparently Dames’s documentary falls into that category. Mocros has received “little attention in the media,” he laments, because “the Dutch press is politically correct” and would prefer not to have a “real debate” about the issues raised by films like his.
Well, we knew that already – heaven knows Geert Wilders does. But after the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the hounding of Ayaan Hirsi Ali out of the country, and the prosecution of Wilders – all because they dared to express their opinions about Islam – and given the increasingly out-of-this-world statistics such as those included in the Risbo report, one wonders exactly what it would take to persuade the Dutch media that it’s time, at long last, to permit a truly wide-open, no-holds-barred discussion of Islam in the Netherlands. One fears that by the time some of the media moguls realize it’s time to let ‘er rip, it’ll already be much too late.
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