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Wilders responsible for rise in anti-Muslim hatred say witnesses

Muslim witnesses said Monday that a Dutch lawmaker’s anti-Islamic comments had led to attacks and intimidation, and they pleaded with judges to convict him and give him a symbolic fine of one euro.

“Arson. Attempted arson. Vandalism. Disturbances. Incivility to people attending mosques. Obscenities. Intimidating behavior – they have all become everyday occurrences” as a result of Wilders’ public remarks, said Mohammed Enait, speaking for an alliance of Dutch mosques that had asked to testify as victims in the case.

Enait said Dutch Muslims have suffered tangible damage as a result of Wilders’ repeated negative remarks about Islam. He said there are countless incidences of “children being cursed at while they walk. Stories from women … who are spit upon, mocked because they wear headscarves.” Enait, who is from Rotterdam, said the mosque he attended as a child had been burned down.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance found that there has been a “dramatic increase in ‘Islamophobia’ in the Netherlands” since 2000.

Several prominent Muslim organizations have asked the new government, which took office last week, to examine the problem, citing an incident earlier this year where a dead sheep was left on a site where a mosque is being built in the city of Roosendaal. Last month, a mosque in Groningen was burned in an arson attack, and as recently as last weekend, a bullet was fired at a mosque in the city of Dordrecht.

The conservative minority government relies on the support of Wilders’ Freedom Party to pass bills in parliament. It has not reacted to the request from the Muslim groups.

Associated Press, 18 October 2010

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