Friday 17 September 2021

I treasure my heritage

At Geert Wilders trial on inciting hatred and discrimination on Monday, law student Naoual addressed the court on her experiences.

I am a Muslim. I am a Moroccan. I am Dutch. I am a product of the multicultural society. My mother is Dutch. My family on my mother’s side fought the Nazis during the Second World War. Two of my great-uncles gave their lives defending Dutch liberty.
My great-grandparents took in Jewish refugees. My grandfather has been decorated numerous times. My youngest great-uncle was one of the first plastic surgeons in this country. All this is part of my heritage and I treasure it.
I have a Moroccan father. In the seventies my family on my father’s side went to prosperous Europe to build a better life. My father was young, learnt fast and worked hard for the Netherlands and for his family. My learned great-uncle – professor at the famous Al-Karaouine University in Fes – was consulted on questions relating to Islam by people from far and wide. King Mohammed V refused to consent to the Nazi treatment of his Jewish subjects. All this is part of my heritage and I treasure it.
Islam is important in my life. The Koran and the Hadith give me guidance. I am not a fascist. I am not a nazi. I am not a terrorist. I am not a criminal. I am not violent. And yet I am often forced to defend myself against such claims. My hair is blond, I have green eyes, I do not wear a veil. I am a student who is a paid up member of the social and economic club that is the Netherlands.
But still many fellow citizens think I should feel responsible for the ills that Mr Wilders has chosen to associate with Islam and Muslims. And not just me but many members of the first, second and third generation Moroccans.
My good name has been discredited by what Wilders has said. Where Judaism and Christianity are presented as civilised, Islam has been painted as a fascist, sick ideology proclaimed by a paedophile prophet.
It is new to me to be asked during a job interview whether I shake hands with men. It is new to me that when I refuse a drink at a party during ramadan to be told that ‘a well-educated girl like you shouldn’t believe in such nonsense’.
It is new that girls in head scarves are automatically told where the cleaning materials are kept when they ask for directions in a university corridor. It is new that my nephew cannot find a traineeship. It is new that a growing number of Muslims is thinking of leaving the country. It is new that women leaving their neighbourhood mosque are pelted with beer cans. It is new that as recently as a week ago a mosque in Dordrecht was shot at.
All this is new and it has been happening in recent years. It is the result of that populist tool called Islam bashing which has flourished thanks to Mr Wilders’ continuous speeches against islam. His abusive, polarising, hate inciting language has set the tone for what has become an intolerant country.
How can I be expected to conform to the dominant Dutch culture – which is what Mr Wilders is telling me to do – when that culture will never accept my background? Should I have become a member of the Anglican church, like my grandmother, or the Dutch reformed church, like my grandfather, just so as to have the right to feel safe? Freedom of religion is still a constitutional right and it one that has enriched and is still enriching the Netherlands.
I do not believe for a single moment that Mr Wilders ever lost any sleep over the problems of Moroccan youths in Oisterwijk or Slotervaart. I have yet to hear a constructive solution or a constructive debate on that and other issues. I believe that Mr Wilders is nothing more than an opportunist who wants to ascend to the throne over the backs of a million Islamic Dutch citizens.
I believe he is a dangerous ideologist who wants to divide Dutch society into a anti-Islam camp and neutral tolerant camp. A divide and rule policy which distracts people’s attention from the real solutions to society’s problems.
Wilders is gaining support everywhere. Have we forgotten the history of Nazism? I believe this is the beginning of some very bleak times for Dutch Muslims. I believe we must take a stand and stop Mr Wilders from poisoning more minds with his abject ideas about Muslims.
Mr Wilders loves Israel. I want to ask him not to forget what happened to the first generation Israelis before they went to Israel. They were spat at and persecuted. They were abused and discriminated against. Because of their faith and their identity.
Throughout history, Muslims have often protected Jews. I ask the court to protect me as a Muslim and a Moroccan against Mr Wilders and his effective attempts at inciting hatred and discrimination. I also ask the court to grant the 1 euro damage claim.
The Netherlands should not be the rubbish tip where the refuse of rogue nations piles up, nations which are on the lowest rung on the world ladder of civilisation because they deny people who hold different opinions the right to be kept safe from harm.
This is an unofficial translation

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