The radical Islamic organisation Shariah4Holland has caused a stir in the Netherlands. The movement is holding a conference in Amsterdam on Saturday and has invited Fouad ‘Abu Imran’ Belkacem, the leader of Shariah4Belgium, recently sentenced to two years in jail for incitement to violence. Media attention and questions from the anti-Islam Freedom Party are inevitable.
But who or what is Shariah4Holland? Does it amount to anything more than a shadowy organisation? Five questions answered:
What does Shariah4Holland want?
Shariah4Holland first emerged in December 2010 as an offshoot of Shariah4Belgium. The group wants to turn the Netherlands into an Islamic state. In a YouTube film it calls on Queen Beatrix to convert to Islam. “We shall only rest when death overtakes us or the flag of sharia flies above the Royal House in The Hague,” the group says in a statement.
Who are the members of Shariah4Holland
“A group of young people from the Netherlands who are prepared to fight for Allah’s laws,” in the words of Shariah4Holland itself. It’s a marginal group with - most likely - no more than a dozen members. The Dutch branch is controlled by Shariah4Belgium and its leader Abu Imran. He was recently given a two year jail sentence for inciting hatred and violence towards non-Muslims. Abu Imran has not yet been arrested and has yet to serve his sentence. Nevertheless, he is still expected to speak at Saturday’s conference in Amsterdam
What has Shariah4Holland actually done?
The group has mainly drawn attention to itself through provocative protest actions. Members disrupted a debate on moderate Islam in Amsterdam in December last year. Radical Muslims threw eggs, spat and shouted slogans such as “you are not Islam”. The police removed the group members by force. Although they presented themselves as members of Shariah4Holland, the protestors nearly all came from Belgium.
The group marked Liberation Day, 5 May, with its own ‘liberation day’ for Mohammed Bouyeri, the Islamic radical currently serving a life sentence for the murder of anti-Islam filmmaker Theo van Gogh. At this small demonstration at the jail in Vught, most of the Shariah4Holland protestors also spoke with Belgian accents.
Is there any support for Shariah4Holland in the Netherlands?
Virtually none. Orthodox Muslims see nothing in Shariah4Holland, partly because the group’s demands are so unfeasible. Apart from calling on Queen Beatrix to convert to Islam, they have demanded repentance from Geert Wilders.
Even the controversial Salafist imam Fawaz Jneid from the As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague wants nothing to do with Shariah4Holland.
“It is a group of young people who have given themselves the right to call on a head of state to convert to Islam” he told Radio Netherlands Worldwide some months ago. “That is not their responsibility. Either they’re mad, or they’re simply criminals who aim to murder people in the name of Islam.”
Is Shariah4Holland dangerous?
The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service says in its 2011 annual report: “There is a risk that supporters from the Shariah4Holland core will cross the boundary into violence.” Dutch politicians expressed concern at the disruption of the debate in Amsterdam. Labour Party MP Ahmed Marcouch has described the organisation’s ideas as violent. Anti-Islam Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made his views clear via Twitter: “Ban the group and deport the members.”
Whether the group is violent or peaceful, Dutch or Belgian, marginal or significant, it is likely that another provocative protest by Shariah4Holland to attract media attention is imminent. It may take place on Saturday to coincide with the Global Shariah Conference in Amsterdam.