Fascists fail to exploit van Gogh aftermath

Searchlight, January 2005

Extreme right-wing and fascist parties in the Netherlands have been trying to capitalise on the wave of Islamophobia that has raged across the country since the killing of film maker Theo van Gogh and the arrest of several Islamic terrorist suspects.

In the days immediately after the murder, the fascists staged some very small, and in their eyes disappointing, demonstrations, while a 30-strong mob of unorganised white racist youth attempted to disrupt a van Gogh commemoration in the northern town of Haarlem.

The fascist Nationale Alliantie (NA) demonstrated in Rotterdam but had to stop its march because police "feared public disturbances". No arrests were made. On 6 November, a crowd of people gathered at the Dutch consulate across the Belgian border in Flanders. Mobilised by the extreme right-wing Vlaams Blok and Voorpost, they read out van Gogh's final newspaper column and laid flowers.

The NA, however, is really more interested in people who fling bombs about than who lay flowers. Its internet forum contains the message: "The people who burn Muslim schools can be well used in the white movement".

Not surprisingly, the NA has been mentioned in the media in connection with the bombing of an Islamic school in Eindhoven on 8 November that was detonated by remote control. For its part, the NA has nervously distanced itself from the bombing with a statement saying "as far as we know until now no NA members were involved in the incidents".

However, it should be pointed out that a known NA sympathiser was convicted for a petrol bomb attack on the same school on 15 June 2003 and that this same creature was last seen at an NA demonstration on 20 August this year, protesting against the local refugee centre in Eindhoven.

The wave of attacks on mosques and Islamic schools also receive enthusiastic greeting on the internet forum of the fascist NieuwRechts and various Fortuynist web fora. The fascist website "Revolutionary White Hand" however, also urges attacks on Jewish houses and synagogues, as well as the houses of police officers, judges and media figures. "Don't call war on your own people by rejecting Islam totally," says the site, "In the near future we will work together with Aryan Muslims against the Jews". The "Revolutionary White Hand" - whoever they are - also points to the antisemitic "Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion", before ending with the message: "Don't be played around by Zion".

Another cheerful reaction to the incitement of racism came from Michael Krick, a German nazi, who was active in the Racial Volunteer Force before he was arrested on 25 November at the request of the German authorities. Krick declared the killing of van Gogh a good idea because "he was a Jew anyway".

In January 2002, Krick was also arrested in The Netherlands, on his way to a meeting attended by BNP members and other nazis in Oldham. He was subsequently released.

Krick still faces exradition to Germany for a series of offences, including possessing CDs with Holocaust denial lyrics and flaunting an SS tattoo at a nazi demonstration in Berlin.

While fascists have cheered on the violence, the attacks on Islamic targets have continued. On 13 November, racists burned a wooden mosque to the ground in the southern town of Helden and, on the same day, a Turkish mosque in Maassluis was set ablaze.

A further attack on a mosque took place in Lelystad and elsewhere police arrested four people for a mosque-burning plot in Gorinchem and a 16-year-old boy for an arson attack on a Turkish centre in Alkmaar.

To date, the police say there have been 96 incidents, but the list would be rather longer if the amount of graffiti, punch-ups and scuffles between white and migrant youths were included.

Though the number of attacks seemed to be in decline by the first week of December, some mosques were still under guard. Interestingly, some city councils have decided not to report incidents any more because of the mobilising effect they could have.

Rumours of possible right-wing extremist intervention hit the media when, weeks after it happened, it was reported that the nazi Nederlandse Volks Unie (NVU) had gathered in Maastricht on 7 November to commemorate Hitler's failed Putsch in Munich on 9 November 1923.

The assembled nazis listened to speeches by Ralf Tegethoff of the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) and Stewart Mordaunt, a member of the BNP and the banned Centrum Party '86. The establishment of a youth branch of the NVU in a small town near Nijmegen also grabbed media attention.

The inflated amount of recent coverage suggests that the media has suddenly stumbled across the existence of ultra right-wing and fascist groups in the Netherlands and of the problem of openly racist, unorganized, and sometimes violent, white youth in rural areas.

Such media attention can limit the space the racists operate in, but can also provide free publicity if the coverage of the activities of the extreme right is not critical. Up to now, it appears that the organised racists and fascists are having trouble in profiting from the widespread anti-Muslim anger, even if NieuwRechts claims to recruit ten new members every day.

That the right-wing extremists are having difficulties in holding meetings was proven when Anti-Fascist Action alerted the owner of a hall in The Hague where the ultra-right committee, Nee tegen Turkije (No to Turkey) was trying to hold a meeting.

This committee consists of Jongrechts, the youth branch of NieuwRechts and the Nationale Beweging (National Movement), a bunch of radical extremist nationalists under the leadership of fascist veteran, Tim Mudde, who is also the leader of the hate rock band Brigade M. The planned meeting was cancelled by the owner who made public the fact that he did not wish to be associated with extreme right racists.

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