Municipalities commissioned undercover investigations into mosques: NRC
At least ten municipalities commissioned undercover investigators to visit mosques and collect sensitive information on administrators, imams and teachers, the NRC reported. The municipalities that ordered the investigations included Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Zoetermeer. Utrecht halted the investigations after concerns about the investigation method.
Expert told the NRC that this form of research is a privacy violation. The investigators were paid for by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). The NCTV brought municipalities into contact with the company NTA, a consultancy that informs the government on radicalization issues.
The municipalities were said to have spent a maximum of 300 thousand euros on the investigations.
The undercover investigators posed as regular mosque visitors: they prayed and listened to sermons and conversations and then reported on who is in charge at the mosque. In the reports, they mentioned the name of the director and also collected background information on the leaders.
The reports also revealed information on controversial imams, foreign lenders and internal conflicts.
The Islamic umbrella organization SPIOR said the investigation “enormously” damaged the trust the Muslim community has in the government. “There is even talk of islamophobia from the state,” SPIOR said.
“With a government that so violently and radically portrays the Muslim community as the “other” and “potentially dangerous”, populism seems to have reached the upper government levels,” SPIOR said.
The NTA claimed that the investigation method was in line with the standards for social science research. The agency said it adheres to the law, yet privacy experts told the NRC that municipalities are breaking the law with these undercover investigations.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.