Anti-Islamists, anti-racists, clowns and police perform on Dam
Alex van Veen
26 January 2008 - Forty protestors who had
come to express their dissatisfaction with Islam, eighty persons
who had come to protest against the anti-Islam protestors, and over
one hundred policemen to guard the public peace. A group of vague
clowns frolicked merrily about.
As usual, Dam Square was full of street performers this afternoon.
A wide circle of onlookers followed the performance of a fire eater
slash juggler. Nearby, citizens were protesting against racism,
also being watched by interested passers-by and a few journalists.
However, most attention was drawn by an isolated group of at most
forty protestors who, standing by the wall of the palace, were surrounded
for security reasons by a cordon of some fifty policemen of the
peace detachment (a specialised unit for dealing with mass protests),
a dozen mounted policemen, a few dozen under cover agents and an
estimated sixty journalists, photographers and camera crews. And
as if this was not yet enough, the group’s flanks were defended
by two platoons of riot police.
One might almost suspect (right-wing politician) Geert Wilders
to be among the protestors, but not really; it was a group of concerned
citizens who have their own ideas about the danger presented by
the ‘Islamisation of society’. ‘No sharia in the
Netherlands’, ‘No racism, no Islamism’, and ‘SIOE
Netherlands: Stop Islamisation. Enough is enough’ were among
the slogans written at the signs as well as a few banners.
SIOE stands for Stop Islamisation of Europe, a new international
‘network’ founded in Denmark by the far-right politician
Anders Gravers. The initiative was a response to the Mohammed cartoons
controversy in the Danish media. The SIOE is a one-issue protest
movement, specifically targeting the growing influence of Islam.
Its main objective is to prevent the Islam becoming a dominant political
force in Europe.
The latter cause, which almost anyone who values freedom will agree
with, of course attracts far-right types. However, there were hardly
any signs of this at the Dam, apart from the presence of Ben van
der Kooij, member of the National Alliance. Meanwhile, SIOE wants
nothing to do with this kind of people, as earlier newspaper interviews
with the founders made clear. At the website, racism is rejected
as ‘the lowest form of human stupidity’, whereas ‘Islamophobia’
is seen as ‘the culmination of common sense’...
The club is yet another product of the Fortuyn movement: it expresses
the discontent felt by many in society, even though only a few actually
turn out to protest. However, by systematically emphasising the
criminal practices performed by Muslim fanatics in this country,
fed by fear and perhaps anti-Arab and nationalist sentiments, a
basis for extreme tendencies is being created. But one can hardly
say that this club poses a threat.
The ‘Stop the Witch Hunt Against Muslims’ committee
(no, for once not the International Socialists, although one might
think so after reading the pamphlet they handed out) was launched
this week with the purpose of taking a stand at the Dam against
SIOE’s ‘manipulative populism’. “We don’t
think that fanning an irrational fear for a minority that is still
being oppressed across Europe is the way to arrive at a constructive
answer to society’s problems in a globalising world”,
the committee states.
The committee further finds that the ‘over-simplified views
of SIOE contribute to polarisation, intolerance and fanning feelings
of fear that create support for the continuation and expansion of
wars in the Middle East”. Suggesting that the SIOE contributes
to polarisation is giving this marginal club too much credit. Without
the counter manifestation the press, of course expecting a riot,
would not have turned up in such massive numbers.
When the SIOE manifestation reached its end (ever seen such a ramshackle
‘sound’ system?), suddenly a dozen clowns turned up,
making a striking argument in favour of waging wars, like the one
against ‘Absurdistan’. Were we expected to make the
connection between anti-Islam and war? I don’t know. The clowns,
part of the RebelAct group, wanted to join the SIOE protestors,
but policemen prevented that. In the end, the clowns held a ‘bed
in’ and fell asleep holding on to pillows in the arms of bewildered
policemen. A cute scene.
This article was written originally for Ravage Digitaal. Indymedia,
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