Racist youth on the move

Searchlight, June 2005

March and April witnessed an accumulation of incidents involving racist white youth, especially in rural areas. At least that is how it seems, but the reality is that the incidents were more a sudden discovery by a media that then could not wait to drag these youth in front of their assembled microphones and cameras.

In fact, anti-fascist researchers have been warning about the phenomenon of violence by white racist youngsters for some time, explaining that the upsurge of aggressive and potentially violent racist white youth subcultures like the so-called "Lonsdale-youth" a reference to their favourite dress mode is unprecedented in the Netherlands.

What triggered the media flurries of March and April, however, were two events. In the first, in Venray, visitors to a hardcore music party hurled beer bottles at a Turkish mosque, attracting a rapid response from Turkish youngsters that resulted in a mass brawl later broken up by police.

On the weekend, before this row there had been an attempt to set fire to a new building at an Islamic school in Uden.The same school made international headlines when, a week after the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh on 2 November last year the school was razed to the ground.

In fact, after van Gogh's murder, violent incidents involving racist youth hit an all-time high. Indeed, 25% percent of solved attacks against Muslims, mosques or other Islamic buildings, in November 2004, were perpetrated by racist youth.

In the months following van Gogh's demise, the number of incidents mounted until even the national press was forced by the arson in Uden and the brawl in Venray, finally, to take notice of the repetitive actions.

Politicians are now falling over each other in the their stampede to comment on this topic and, as might have been predicted, right-wing liberal integration, Rita Verdonk, is claiming that these incidents were "vandalism" and that migrant youngsters have a "short fuse".

In a parliamentary debate about right-wing youth, Verdonk found it impossible to condemn outright the violence of the racist youth. The statement made by Verdonk's predecessor, Hilbrand Nawijn, was even worse, consisting of a rant in which he claimed that if "gangs of migrant youngsters roam the streets of our big cities, it is more than normal, although we disapprove, that in small villages with closed communities people will defend themselves " Going on, Nawijn added: "We are dealing with left-wing extremism and with Muslim extremism."

Despite the heat generated by the politicians, the only practical suggestion to emerge was a proposal from justice minister, Piet Hein Donner, who announced that the secret service and the police would probe the pattern of these racist incidents and the involvement of ultra-rightist groups.

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