Jaap Blokker and xenophobia

Searchlight, October 2005

Jaap Blokker, the multinational businessman and shops and supermarkets chain owner, is making a habit of issuing xenophobic statements in the annual reports of his company, Blokker. For the third time in a row, he has been accused by the state anti-racism bureau Landelijk Bureau ter bestrijding van Rassendiscriminatie (LBR) of "stigmatising and insulting foreigners". This year, Blokker warns that Dutch society is getting more dangerous because of the "European Union's porous borders" and rival companies like Ikea and Media Markt are, he claims, being awarded privileges by the Dutch authorities while"100% Dutch companies are being sold out to foreign investors". In previous reports, Blokker has raged against foreigners and "illegal" migrants who rob his stores'. LBR researchers say Blokker cannot prove his wild allegations.

At the same time, the majority of Dutch people want a law banning public sector workers from wearing the headscarf or other Islamic clothing the independent weekly, Binnenlands Bestuur, reported in August. In a poll asking the same questions in 2003, a majority found the idea that a civil servant might wear a headscarf acceptable. In some places, prejudice is leading to outright violence. At the end of August, a court jailed an 18-year-old youth for 15 months after he threw a Molotov cocktail at a Muslim school in Uden in March. Three other youth were also handed 35 days detention and 160 hours community work for their part in the arson. The school had already been burnt out, resulting in five convictions, the week after the racist murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh last November. The four youths, one of whom was found to have racist materials, targeted the new building.

By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! and Antifa-Net in Utrecht