Violence against Muslims, mosques largely unreported

Threatening letter sent to at least 10 mosques in the Netherlands, 25 Feb 2016 (Photo: @ahmedmarcouch/Twitter). (Threatening letter sent to at least 10 mosques in the Netherlands, 25 Feb 2016 (Photo: @ahmedmarcouch/Twitter))

Violent incidents directed against mosques are increasingly common occurrences and happen far more often than is reported in the media, according to researcher Ineke van der Valk. "Many Mosque leaders choose not to make the violence against their address public", she said to Dutch newspaper Trouw. "For example, because they do not want to exacerbate the matter."

Van der Valk has been researching aggression against Muslims and Mosques fro the University of Amsterdam for several years. She bases her research on reports in the media, figures from mosque dome organizations and reports received by a hotline set up by Muslims. Last year there were 28 cases. This year's counter is already at 18.

"Most of them made the news: pigs' heads on the doorstep of a mosque, slogans in graffiti, attempted arson. And then there are the threatening emails and letters", van der Valk said. Half of this year's reports consist of the threatening letters sent to mosques last week - at least 20 mosques received these letters, the police announced on Monday - but Van der Valk still sees reason to be concerned. "Only two months have gone by."

The Contact Body Muslims and Government, who speaks on behalf of many mosques in the Netherlands, is not yet convinced that violence against Muslims is indeed increasing. But they do see reason to be concerned, chairman Rasit Bal said to the newspaper. "But of course, we are worried. In our community there is a feeling that anything can happen, that it can go wrong at any moment."

Minster Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs is also concerned. He will be sitting down with Muslim organizations to discuss how the situation can be helped soon, he promised on Radio 1 program Dit is de Dag on Monday.

Whether or not the police saw an increase in aggression towards Muslims, will only be clear when they publish their figures on reports filed last year in the summer. In 2013 the police counted 150 cases of Muslim discrimination and anti-Muslim violence. In 2014 there were 206.