Freedom of speech in the West is threatened by the trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders. But both within and beyond the Netherlands, few people have noticed the political origins of the most enthusiastic supporters of this political witch hunt.
On the website of the Verzetsmuseum in Amsterdam, devoted to the Dutch resistance in World War II, is a poster that found wide circulation in the spring of 2002. It is promotional material for a demonstration — “Stop de Hollandse Haider” (Stop the Dutch Jörg Haider) — that was planned for May 11, 2002, in the center of Rotterdam. “Don’t give racism a vote” was another slogan for the event, which was a rally against Pim Fortuyn, the leader of the anti-establishment party LPF.
Fortuyn was finding growing popularity among Dutch voters because of his outspoken opposition to multiculturalism, which was then and still is now the mainstream opinion among Dutch political and cultural elites. Politicians and journalists falsely branded Fortuyn as a Nazi or a fascist because of his critical statements about Islam. They compared him with European politicians like Jean-Marie le Pen (France) and Haider (Austria).
The most vicious attacks came from the “anti-racist” group Nederland Bekent Kleur (NBK, “Colorful Netherlands”) and the International Socialists (the Dutch offspring of the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyite group from Britain). They were the main organizers of the demonstration in Rotterdam.
They started their campaign against Fortuyn in December 2001 with an article in Socialist, the monthly paper of the International Socialists. It bore the signature of their leader Pepijn Brandon, and René Danen — then on the Amsterdam city council for a left extremist party, and through the years the boss of NBK. This foundation started in 1992 as a broad coalition of churches, trade unions, and local committees. Over the years it became more Trotskyite, and in 2002 all their board members were connected with different “Trot” groups.
Danen spoke on March 5, 2002, with Trotskyite leader Miriyam Aouragh in Amsterdam, at a meeting titled “How dangerous is Pim Fortuyn?” The evening was staged by “Stop Racisme,” a front organization of the International Socialists. Aouragh also heads another front committee called “Samen Tegen Racisme” (Together Against Racism).
The big demonstration against Fortuyn never took place. On May 6, 2002, he was murdered by animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf. Danen and Aouragh didn’t need to consider the question of how dangerous Pim Fortuyn was any longer.
NBK went into hiding due to the anger of Dutch public opinion. It even canceled its yearly commemoration of Kristallnacht — a meeting that always drew a misguided parallel between the anti-Semitism of WWII and the so-called “Islamophobia” of our days.
The rise of Geert Wilders, who expresses even more critical opinions about Islam then Fortuyn did, spurred a revival of NBK. In March 2007 it staged, together with the International Socialists, a protest meeting in Amsterdam. One of the invited speakers was Ed van Thijn, the Jewish ex-mayor of Amsterdam. He claimed that the popularity of Wilders threatened to bring us back to the anti-Semitism of last century, as well.