More than half of the people with Turkish and Moroccan backgrounds in the Netherlands say they would consider leaving the country due to the growing popularity of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. A third say they would definitely like to emigrate.
The figures emerge from a survey by research bureau Motivaction for public service broadcaster NCRV’s current affairs programme Netwerk. The programme commissioned the survey in response to the success of Mr Wilders' rightwing Freedom Party in the recent European parliamentary elections. Since March this year, leading pollster Maurice de Hond's Peil.nl has measured support for the populist Freedom Party at more than 30 percent, which would theoretically make it the largest party in the Dutch parliament if there were an election.
Although three quarters of the Turkish and Moroccan Dutch people questioned in the Motivaction survey said they felt at home in the Netherlands, 57 percent said they now felt less comfortable in the country due to the growing popularity of the Freedom Party. Two out of five said they felt they were now discriminated against more often, and almost a quarter said they regularly experienced discrimination. Nearly three quarters said they thought Mr Wilders had intensified negative feelings towards Muslims among the Dutch public.
Nearly twenty percent said they agreed with Mr Wilders on some points and could appreciate why people would vote for him. However, half of the respondents said the growing support for Mr Wilders made them feel angry and disappointed, and 22 percent said he aroused feelings of fear and hatred. Ninety per cent said they thought a Wilders government would be a fiasco, and only 4 percent thought he would be able to offer any solutions to the country's problems.
The survey asked respondents what they saw as the best strategy to counter Mr Wilders. Forty percent thought the best policy was simply to ignore the Freedom Party. Thirty-five percent favoured entering into debate with Mr Wilders and his supporters. Twenty five percent saw vociferous protest as the answer, and 11 percent wanted to see a Muslim political party established to represent their interests.
The survey’s findings echo remarks by Turkish-born Rotterdam councillor Hamit Karakus in Monday’s de Volksrant newspaper. Mr Karakus says that although his children speak Dutch, understand Dutch culture and customs, and are well educated, they still feel they are not accepted in Dutch society. “They also wonder whether they have a future in this country,” he adds. The councillor says he believes the popularity of the Freedom Party is fuelling support for a small but growing minority of radical Muslims in the Netherlands.
Figures cited by the annual Emigration Fair, which provides information to would-be emigrants, put the findings of the Motivaction survey of Dutch Moroccans and Turks in perspective. According to the fair’s organisation, around 30 percent of the entire Dutch population say they are considering emigrating, for a wide range of reasons. However, only a tiny proportion of them ever actually take the plunge and move to another country.