VVD leader forces MP to withdraw Salafist Islam ban bill

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VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra forced one of his parliamentarians, Sjoerd Potters, to withdraw a legislative proposal on the status of religious organization in the Netherlands. According to Zijlstra, the bill "does not suit the VVD vision", NOS reports.

Potters bill proposes that religious organization lose the legal exemption protecting them from criminal prosecution and gives the government the possibility to ban them. The bill was drafted with Salafist Islam in mind.

According to ZIjlstra, the VVD does not want to tackle organizations based on their ideals, as the bill seems to suggest. Only "those who actively seek to undermine our democracy under the banner of a religious association. It is not about tackling those who think something, but those who do or want to do something." Zijlstra feels that Potters raised the suggestion that the VVD wants to restrict religious freedom. "This is incorrect. The VVD is for the freedom of religion", he said to NOS.

The VVD previously proposed that religious institutions lose their protection from criminal prosecution, because the party fears that the Netherlands' values are under pressure from people who want to overthrow them. But the plan must not be allowed to led to a restriction on religious freedom, according to Zijlstra.

The VVD and PvdA also asked the government to consider banning Salafist organizations, but the government refused.