Right-wing extremism and racism are on the rise in the Netherlands but racially motivated attacks are still rare, Trouw reported on Friday.
The paper said a pattern of racially motivated attacks such as in Germany, which recorded around a thousand violent incidents in 2018, is not one that is being copied in the Netherlands.
Homeland security service AIVD told the paper that such attacks in the Netherlands are limited to ‘a few dozen a year’.
The tone of the debate is getting more radical, however. ‘The number of racist comments has increased enormously and there is a shift in what is considered as normal language. But the extreme right seem to shy away from violence,’ said Nikki Sterkenburg, a Leiden PhD researcher who is studying right-wing extremism in the Netherlands.
When right-wing activists do resort to violence, as happened in 2016 when a mosque in Enschede was firebombed, support from the extreme right is low, Sterkenburg said.
‘Other than in Germany, where traditional Nazis and skinhead form a large part of the extreme right scene, the Netherlands has separate groups and loners. They may make contact via the internet but are not organised.’
This makes it difficult to estimate numbers although police are aware of a group of around 150 to 250 people who go to lectures or demonstrations. That number hasn’t changed in years, Sterkenburg said.
A spokesperson for the AIVD told Trouw that the threat from the extreme right is small compared to other countries but that actions by loners radicalised as a result of hate speech cannot be discarded.
Sterkenburg said democratically elected far right-wing parties such as the PVV and FvdD ‘normalise right-wing rhetoric which dehumanised ethnic minorities. But is it unclear whether this actually leads to violence,’ she said.
This week FvdD leader Thierry Baudet was accused of using far-right language during a debate on the Dutch contribution to the EU when he told MPs the EU was promoting the ‘weakening of the national European identities’ in favour of multiculturalism.
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