Netherlands: Muslim MPs in a populist world

Netherlands: Muslim MPs in a populist world

Via RNW:
What is it like to be a Muslim MP in a parliament that also houses the well-known anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders? Radio Netherlands' John Tyler spoke to two MPs in just that situation.

Coskun Çörüz was born in 1963 in a fishing village on the Black Sea coast in Turkey. His family came to the Netherlands when he was six years old.

Çörüz says the Christian Democrats was the only party which recognized the importance of religion in his life.

Today, dozens of Muslims represent the party at the local level.

Populist right-wing politician Geert Wilders strides up to the lectern in the Dutch parliament, adjusts his papers, takes a sip of water, looks up and starts to speak.

“We should ban that fascist book, the Quran. It’s a book that calls for hatred and murder. If you took out all the hateful passages, you would be left with a book the size of a Donald Duck comic strip.”

This was just one of the dozens of times Mr Wilders has lashed out against Islam during a parliamentary debate. [Mr Wilders is on trial for similar comments he has made outside parliament. See our Geert Wilders dossier.]

Sitting just a few meters away listening to Mr Wilders is MP Coskun Çörüz, himself a Muslim.

"It makes me feel quite unpleasant when Wilders says that stuff. Because it’s quite personal, it reflects on one’s character. And I’m not willing to change my religion."

Mr Çörüz is one of seven Dutch members of parliament who identify themselves as practising Muslims (seven more are from a Muslim background but are non-practising).