Wednesday 01 February 2023

This is an unofficial translation of the open letter signed by some 60 academics, writers, artists and actors criticising the way politicians are deepening divides in society.

‘Behave yourself or go’ – Mark Rutte (prime minister)

‘Anti-racist demonstrators are attacking our way of life’ – Raymond Knops (junior home affairs minister)

‘Social security and Dutch citizenship have to be earned’ – Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD MP)

‘Immigration and globalisation brought the clash of civilizations to ‘our home’. The ‘ordinary Dutch’ were left bereft, as if the elite had taken away their freedom and equality and given them to the newcomers.’ – Sybrand Buma ( CDA leader)

These are only a few of the comments that politicians and MPs have made about our society over the last couple of years. Last week foreign minister Stef Blok added a new low:

‘Give me one example of a multi-ethnic or multicultural society, where the original population still lives (..) where there is peaceful cohabitation. I don’t know of any.’- Stef Blok

We are extremely worried. Politicians belonging to the parties that make up our government are actively calling for a split in society and seem to think this is normal behaviour. Comments that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago are now aired with impunity. What the foreign minister is really saying is that every immigrant is a potential risk to social peace in this country because there is no such a thing as a society in which different cultures live together peacefully. Xenophobia, a euphemism for the hatred of foreigners, is something he takes ‘a pragmatic’ view of.

Politicians are increasingly positioning themselves at the far end of the scale in the debate about migration, integration or identity and fail to see that by doing so they are adding weight to the forces that favour racism, inhuman and discriminatory behaviour towards immigrants.

Every time a politician – someone responsible for the well-being of all Dutch citizens – airs these views the racist elements in our society feel vindicated. Even if he backtracks. Even if he makes half-hearted excuses, or fudges or retracts. The words are out there and can’t be taken back. They have taken root in our society.

It is comments like this that are putting pressure on our peaceful society.

It is comments like this that undermine society and create and strengthen division.

It is comments like this that legitimise racists and extreme right-wing radicals and their hate campaign against everyone who is different.

Dear politicians, we are calling on you to take responsibility. Stop pandering to the ever-growing xenophobic and racist fears in our society. Stop pushing the borders of what is decent in the social debate. Stop promoting the split of a fictitious ‘us’ and ‘them’. The effects on our society are destabilising, polarising and are having a real effect on real people, people who are just as ordinary as any other Dutch person. And who, like any other Dutch person, deserve to be represented with respect by their government leaders.

Meredith Greer – Writer
Tirza de Fockert – Councillor GroenLinks Amsterdam
Lieke Marsman – Poet
Claudia de Breij – Comedian
Akwasi – Rapper
Eric Corton – Actor / Presenter
Jurjen van de Bergh – Political commentator / Founder of De Goede Zaak
Tinkebell  Artist
Persis Bekkering – Writer
Maurice Seleky  Writer
Joyce Brekelmans -Journalist
Nadia Bouras – Universitity Lecturer, Universiteit Leiden
Raja Felgata – Founder Kleurrijke Top 100
Sylvana Simons – Founder BIJ1, councillor Amsterdam
Christine Otten – Writer / Journalist
Janneke Stegeman –Theologian
Mona van den Berg – Photographer
Hans Krikke – Director Samenwonen/ Samen Leven Amsterdam Nieuw West
Amma Assante – Politician
Ahmet Polat – Photographer
Sunny Bergman – Filmmaker
Murat Isik – Writer
Glenn Helberg – Psychiatrist
Babs Gons – Poet
Dolly Bellefleur – Dolly Bellefleur
Massih Hutak – Writer / Rapper
Ingeborg Beugel -Journalist / Filmmaker
Anke Laterveer – Writer / Presenter
Claartje Kruijff – Theoloog des Vaderlands
Olave Nduwanje -Lawyer, Activist and politician
Marjolein van Heemstra – Writer
dr. Ellen-Rose Kambel – Director Rutu Foundation for intercultural education
Dylan Meert – Programme maker at Pakhuis de Zwijger
Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers – Education administrator / Author
Zoë Papaikonomou – Investigative journalist and author
Annebregt Dijkman – Investigative journalist and author
Barbara Vos – Programme maker at Pakhuis de Zwijger
Egbert Fransen – Director Pakhuis de Zwijger
Joost Baars – Poet
Geert van Itallië -Director Melkweg
Etchica Voorn – Author
Anja Meulenbelt – Writer / Politician
Izaline Calister – Singer
Matthea de Jong –Programme maker
Nikki Dekker – Writer / Radio maker
Milou Deelen – Journalist
Malou Holshuijsen –  Presenter BNNVARA
Joshua Livestro –  Chief editor Jalta, Publicist
Stan Veuger – Economist at American Enterprise Institute, visiting lecturer at Harvard University
Robert Vuijsje – Writer
Karin Spaink – Columnist
Ronald Giphart -Writer
Bénédicte Ficq  Lawyer
Mano Bouzamour – Writer
Robert Alberdingk Thijm Screenwriter
Norbert Ter Hall – Film director
Jean-Marc van Toll – Author
Devika Partiman – Social activist
Marleen Stikker – Founder of the de Waag Society
Natascha van Weezel -Journalist
Samora Bergtop – Actrice
Hans Laroes – Journalist / Chief editor
Bart Chabot – Poet / Writer
Simon(e) van Saarloos – Philosopher / Writer
Elias Mazian  DJ
Geert Mak Writer
Elsbeth Etty – Columnist


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