Netherlands: “Stop the attacks, stop racism!”

Socialists and school students call protest actions

The following text (translated and slightly edited) is from a leaflet distributed by Offensief (cwi) members in Rotterdam this week, opposing the wave of racist and anti-Muslim attacks since the killing last week of the controversial film director, Theo van Gogh, allegedly by a suspect linked to political Islamic terrorism. Offensief members are calling for mass action by the workers’ movement to isolate the racists and also to stop the government’s austerity measures. Protest action by school students, including many from different ethnic backgrounds, will take place tomorrow (Friday 12 November) in Rotterdam.

"Stop the attacks, stop racism!"
"Stop the austerity measures and cuts!"

The terrible murder of Theo van Gogh led to a wave of racism and hatred against Muslims, including attacks on mosques and on an Islamic grammar school in Eindhoven. Now churches have been attacked and an Islamic school in Uden went up in flames.

Many people are shocked by this outbreak of violence; the majority of people living in the Netherlands, regardless their origins, do not support this violence. There is a common feeling that things have gone too far and that hatred and racism must stop! Youth and workers, be they Dutch, or of immigrant/foreign origin, must not fight against each other, but struggle together against the social cuts and the government! This is necessary, as the social agreement, which was signed by the trade unions and the government, means the worsening of living standards for both white Dutch workers and immigrant workers.

Right wing politicians are crying about how terrible they find the murder of van Gogh. We condemn the murder as well, but we understand that it will be the Muslim community who will suffer the most from its consequences: repression by the police, racist attacks and a more racist climate in society. The government condemns this murder, so as to strengthen this [reactionary] point of view. The AIVD (secret service) will get more money, without there being more control over the activities of this spy service. There have been rumours [that there are plans] to shut down/ close mosques and to take away Dutch nationality from those immigrants with dual nationality. Moreover, we learned from experience, that those measures will – if necessary- be directed against so-called left extremists and the workers’ movement, in general.

The government is now calling for calm and national conciliation/ unity. But it is them who caused the situation by implementing cuts on social welfare, [by creating a] lack of housing, and [by causing] unemployment and poverty. [But] immigrants, mainly Moroccans, are getting the blame.

Muslim-fundamentalism has not fallen out of the sky. During the Cold War, the American government supported fundamentalists in Afghanistan, for years. The Dutch government sent troops to Iraq and runs after Bush in the race for oil. At this moment, countless innocent Iraqi citizens are being slaughtered in the city of Falluja, by the American military. We condemn Muslim-fundamentalism which is a dead end street for the Muslim youth who turn in this direction out of desperation. But the "war against Muslim-extremism" [as claimed by] Zalm, the Finance Minister, will only increase divisions. To fight against Muslim-fundamentalism, the troops must be withdrawn from Iraq and it must be assured that immigrants are no longer discriminated against in the Netherlands.

United struggle

We need a united struggle of Dutch workers and immigrants against cuts, unemployment, racism and war. The government simply aims to sow division. If we start fighting each other on the grounds of origin and religion, we are not able to fight against the government. ‘Divide and rule’, is their motto.

The recent events make clear that the period of ‘calm and stability’ has definitely come to an end. Capitalism is not longer capable of maintaining the welfare state. Everywhere, right wing governments have started attacking social security, education, health care, and working conditions etc.

The recent months have shown that unity and solidarity are possible: hundred thousands of workers and youth, white and black, went on strike and demonstrated against this government that wants to finish the remnants of the welfare state. The workers’ movement has the power to counter the growth of racism and hatred. It must organise demonstrations and meetings against the bigots on both sides to isolate them, and to point out the common interests of Dutch and immigrant working people. It is necessary to start initiatives in the workplaces to fight ethnic and religious divisions. This is the task of the trade union movement. The Socialistische Partij (Socialist Party ) has to offer a socialist answer to racism and austerity policies. Together we are able to fight for a decent future for everyone!

Members of Offensief (CWI) are involved in various initiatives. In the cities of Breda and Den Bosch (Brabant), we are involved in the preparation for anti-racist actions. ‘Offensief against Racism’, the youth campaign of the socialist organisation Offensief, calls for a protest meeting on 12 November at the school square of the Zadkine-complex, at the Schiekade, in Rotterdam. On Saturday, 20 November, a protest demonstration will take place in Rotterdam. In different universities and schools, our members are taking initiatives in organising protest actions. Inside the trade union movement and the Socialists Party, Offensief is arguing for initiatives, such as in Rotterdam and Breda, against the upsurge in racism.

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