Netherlands: Muslim converts to Christianity live in fear

Netherlands: Muslim converts to Christianity live in fear

Muslims who become Christians in the Netherlands often have to deal with persecution. Harassment by former coreligionists are on the order of the day, and death threats come regularly. The Gave foundation is sounding the alarm. Other sources confirm the threats.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

"People think that threats aimed at Muslims who've become Christians only happens in Muslim countries like Morocco or Iraq" says Johanna Marten, team leader of the Arabic work at the Gave foundation, an inter-church organization which helps churches with missionizing among asylum seekers. "Many people in the Netherlands have no idea of the problems that Muslims in the Netherlands encounter when they become Christian. They don't know that also in the Netherlands there are concrete threats and attacks in the name of Islam."

Marten and the people on his team hear every month of 'one or two serious death threats' towards the ex-Muslims they guide, he says. "Often we hear of people who have to deal with physical violence."

In the Netherlands, about 200 Muslims converted to Christianity last year. In the Friesland police they don't know of complaints of threats which were made by converted Muslims, says spokesperson Irene Sloot. "In this type of cases complaints aren't made so quickly." According to Marten, ex-Muslims usually skip it out of fear.

Eerde de Vries, chairman of the Dutch-Arabic services of the Reformed-Liberated Morgenster Church in Leeuwarden, says he knows of the tensions with which ex-Muslims have to deal with. Twice a year the church holds a service in Arabic, for which about 80 Arabic speakers show up. "The atmosphere becomes grimmer. I sometimes also hear of concrete death threats. In the most recent one, somebody with whom we have contact, got death threats by SMS. Additionally I hear of people who 'simply' get beaten up."

For the safety of those involved, De Vries proposed to only use fictional name in the church paper of the municipality when naming Muslims who converted to Christianity. De Vries wants to hold Arabic services on the Sundays when shops are open. "So that it won't attract attention in the asylum centers when people go out the door. Nobody has to know that they're going to church."

Islam scholar and director of the scientific institute for the ChristianUnion party, Gert-Jan Segers, knows of the problems. He lived seven years in Egypt and saw that it always causes tension when a Muslim converts to Christianity. "In the Muslim world, freedom of religion is structurally trampled upon. With the arrival of Muslims in the Netherlands, that culture was imported to the Netherlands."

Segers says that freedom of religion is very important. "It affects freedom of expression. But besides the Christian parties and the VVD, you don't hear anybody on the subject." He says that on this point there should be tough demands on the integration of Muslims. "If Islam wants a permanent place here, then Muslims should come to an agreement on freedom of religion. It should be made clear to any Muslim who comes into the Netherlands that physical violence won't be tolerated also in this field. It could lead to deportation, because it totally conflicts with what our country stands for."

Source: Friesch Dagblad (Dutch)

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