The Rise of Salafism in the Netherlands

The following Dutch news story reports on the increase of Salafist extremism in the Netherlands. It was translated by our Flemish correspondent Y_not and subtitled by Vlad Tepes:

Our Flemish correspondent VH supplies additional background material, beginning with a translated excerpt from De Volkskrant:

Head of AIVD: Salafism undermines Dutch society

The radicalization of Muslim youth continues unabated. The growth of Salafism, an ultra-orthodox Islamic stream, undermines Dutch society. This trend does not immediately cause an increase in the terrorist threat, but ever more young Muslims reject integration and turn their back on democratic rule. This causes polarization between population groups.


The reduced terrorist threat (in 2006/7) was not only due to government action. The Islamist groups are also divided over course and what targets to hit. What’s more, real leaders are missing.

Vigilance is still needed, however, warned Van Hulst. Radicalization processes sometimes take place very quickly, as does the rise of networks and terrorist cells. Unexpected events like the Danish cartoon crisis and the war in Lebanon could provoke violence. Van Hulst added that “the tone of the debate and the language used” fuel radicalization.

VH adds:

AIVD gives warning about Salafism

Radical Islam, and especially Salafism, are gaining ground in the Netherlands and Europe, the AIVD says in its report (published in the fall of 2007; pdf here). This can lead to a disruption of relations among Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims. Radicalization, polarization, and social isolation are a result of this.

Radical Muslims— according to the AIVD — adhere to a strict application of Islamic laws, are opposed to Western society and the right of women to work and study. Salafist preachers usually do not call for violence [in the open], but the AIVD considers this stream as undesirable. The Salafists’ message is intolerant and works against integration, the AIVD said. More and more Muslims are turning physically and mentally away from Dutch society. Homosexuals sometimes must fear for their lives.

Salafism is preached in the mosque al-Tawheed (in Amsterdam), the al-Fourkaan mosque (in Eindhoven), the as-Soenah (in Den Haag) and the Islamic Foundation for Education and Transfer of Knowledge in Tilburg.

In the Netherlands, according to Minister of Home Affairs Guusje ter Horst (PvdA, Socialists), there are between 20,000 and 30,000 people susceptible to the radical ideas of Salafism. Of these, 2,500 are “‘potentially activist”. The Minister reported this during a consultation with Parliament.

Despite pressure from some MPs [Wilders], the Minister refused to say how many Salafist preachers there are in the Netherlands. According to the Minister, that’s “operational information” she doesn’t want to share in public.

The most recent AIVD report on Salafism mentions on the one hand the external display of a “moderate Salafism”, though more important is what the AIVD says between the lines: Salafists do have a radical view of their future goals, but have decided to lull the Dutch asleep to expand and strengthen until they have “authority” enough (the power to make Dutch society accede to their demands) to wake them up. In the meanwhile they let the Dutch (and others in the West) bark up the wrong tree:

From the AIVD report:

– – – – – – – –

In the AIVD’s study of radicalization trends, it not only asserts that radicalization leads to terrorism, but also reports on forms of radicalization that have a disruptive influence on society and lead to polarization and intolerant isolationism. On the latter point, “political Salafism”, a non-violent variant of Salafism, takes a prominent place. Representatives of this movement in our country focus on the dissemination of their message (da’wa) and in general reject violence as a means. However, within this Salafism stream there is a debate on the permissibility of participating in the jihad in Muslim countries where a battle is going on, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2008 the AIVD visited several mayors and a dozen regional colleges to inform the local government about the growth and professionalization of the non-violent radical Islam in the Netherlands. They also dealt with the risks — long and short term — for the democratic order. For the AIVD, a good liaison with local government is of great importance to better identify and effectively counter radicalization.

The most striking observations of the AIVD in 2008 were:

  • Known Salafist centers are expressing themselves more moderately in public than in private;
  • There is a certain “self-cleaning capacity” under way; extremists are excluded;
  • The resistance of the Dutch Muslim community against radical forces has increased;
  • The number of extremist statements from radical Islamic extremists on Dutch web sites did not increase in 2008.

The AIVD has observed that last year that the known centers of Salafism, because of media attention, political pressure, and critical comments from the Moroccan community, expressed themselves more moderately in public than in private.

Externally, they try to give the impression that they promote the integration of Muslims into Dutch society, while in private polarizing statements are made that may have long-term negative effects on society. It seems in the long term they plan Salafism in the Netherlands to grow into a movement with influence and authority. The AIVD will closely monitor these developments in 2009.

Within the Salafist centers a certain degree of “self-cleaning capacity” has emerged. The as-Sunnah mosque in The Hague, for instance, barred an extremist group of young people from entering the mosque, and even reported on that group to the police. The AIVD publication “Radical Da’wa in Transition, the rise of Islamic neo-radicalism in the Netherlands”, has contributed to the implementation of policies with local government to promote this development. Furthermore, the resistance against radical currents within the Muslim community itself has increased, and the AIVD finds that Muslims increasingly distance themselves publicly from the message the Salafist centers propagate.

“[…] distance themselves publicly…” Muslims do not increasingly distance themselves from Salafism indoors. Because the influence of Salafism, in all its flavors basically still the same radical Da’wa, was only two years ago still reported as growing. “Many immigrant youths (nearly half of them) nurture anti-Western ideas. Especially the rapid growth should cause concern,” a newspaper research concluded:

“Most immigrant feel themselves above all Muslim,” the newspaper De Volkskrant wrote years ago, on May 11, 2000. The results of a survey on the attitudes of Turkish, Moroccan and native youth about the Netherlands, Islam and integration painted a disturbing picture. The study was initiated by the newspaper and conducted by Han Entzinger and Karin Phalet.

One hundred percent of Moroccans and 99 percent of the Turks call themselves Muslim, the researchers at that time stated. One in fourteen Turkish and Moroccan youth were willing to use violence to help defend Islam (the Moroccans) or the national interest (the Turks). Further it was revealed that 44 percent of Moroccans and 43 percent of the Turkish deemed the Islamic and European lifestyles incompatible (also 38 percent of natives agreed to that).

The report was published more than one year before the attacks of September 11, 2001, and hardly caused any turmoil. The severity of the radicalization of young people had not yet penetrated Dutch politics. To the great displeasure of the Moroccan-Dutch Youth Interaction Team (MNIT), that in this environment spotted a growing radicalization. In July 2002 the MNIT sent urgent letters to the government.

But further policy and research focused on this issue stayed out. Only after the murder of Theo van Gogh in November 2004 did politics take some action. Integration Minister Rita Verdonk (VVD) commissioned the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) in December 2004 to map the radicalization of Muslim youth. The report was finished in 2007.

The members of IMES did not do any empirical research themselves. The researchers relied on several studies, including the one of Phalet in 2000. They spoke with informants from within community work, local governments, and religious and social institutions. And they conducted in-depth interviews with 16 democratic and 22 orthodox and radical Muslim youth.

Based all these sources, the researchers distilled their own analysis. In this they stated that forty percent of Moroccan youths believe that Muslim and European lifestyles are difficult to reconcile (slightly less than mentioned in the study of Phalet 2000); that this leads to a negative attitude towards the West and democracy; and that 6 to 7 percent of them are prepared to defend Islam with violence.

The report also claims that September 11, 2001 and the murder of van Gogh led to further radicalization. Logically, the alarming rates of 2000 should then still be even higher. But the researchers pass by that alert.

In the most recent Progress Report on Terrorism, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism wrote that Salafism (orthodox Islam that returns to the time of the Prophet Muhammad) is growing rapidly. He calls it a disturbing development. The IMES report correctly states that Salafists usually are not terrorists. It distinguishes three forms of Salafism: a peaceful political form, an apolitical form, and a jihadist form.

The researchers further mention that they have the impression that the jihadists are tempered by other Salafists. But they ignore the fears of the AIVD that the growth of Salafism will make more youngsters turn away from Western democracy.

Asked whether the numerous warnings of a rapid growth of the radicalization of Muslim youth (since 2000) were justified or not, the IMES report gives no answer. There remains a need for a thorough investigation into the exact size of both the orthodox and the violent, anti-Western form of Islam.

The revealing AIVD report “From Dawa to Jihad; The various threats from radical Islam to the democratic legal order” can be read directly here and downloaded as a pdf [circa 500k] here .

Dawa graph

Illustration from page 37 of the Dawa report of the AIVD (Dutch Intelligence Service): “Eight types of threat from radical Islam” [Note from the Baron — the reduction in size to fit within the post width has made this somewhat difficult to read]

In the report “From Dawa to Jihad”, the AIVD distinguishes eight forms of threat from radical Islam”

1. Orientation on the vertical dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a form of government that is totally different from that of the democratic legal order, using overt, non-violent means (overt Dawa). [p. 37]

2. Orientation on the horizontal dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a type of society that is completely different (different interpersonal relationships) from the Western ‘civic culture’ using overt and non-violent means (overt Dawa) [p. 38]


These variants of radical Islam manifest themselves in non-violent, radical-Islamic puritan groups, which, via overt propagation of an often isolationist message, frequently advocate exclusivism and parallelism (for example, groups like some not directly violent radical Salafist groups or globally operating missionary organizations such as the Tablighi Jamaat). In the Western world the view is winning ground that deeper study is necessary into the exclusivism and parallelism advocated by these groups.” […] “This movement [Salafism] is largely linked to the Saudi clergy, which is loyal towards the Saudi government or is tolerated by it. By propagating the Salafist doctrine the worshippers in these mosques are presented with ideas about a far-reaching isolation and evasion of those with different convictions, thus effectively inciting to extreme isolationism. The resulting orientation on the own community of ‘true’ Muslims and rejection of non-believing outsiders may lead to intolerance towards anyone who does not adhere to the strictly puritan Islamic view of Salafism (exclusivism) and to tendencies to consider Islamic laws as superior to Dutch legislation (parallelism).

3. Orientation on the horizontal dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a type of society that is completely different (as to interpersonal relationships) from the Western ‘civic culture’, using covert, non-violent means (covert Dawa) [p. 39]

4. Orientation on the vertical dimension of the democratic legal order, emanating from forms of radical Islam that pursue a type of society that is completely different from the democratic legal order, using covert and non-violent means (covert Dawa) [p. 40]

5. Orientation on the vertical dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a form of government that is completely different from that of a democratic legal order, using covert violent means (covert Jihad) [p.41]

6. Orientation on the horizontal dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that by using covert and violent means pursue a type of society that is completely different (as to interpersonal relationships) from the Western civic culture, (covert Jihad) [p. 41]

7. Orientation on the horizontal dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a type of society that is completely different (as to interpersonal relationships) from the Western civic culture, using overt and violent means (overt Jihad) [p. 42]


These forms of radical Islam pursue, via overt and violent means (overt Jihad), radical social changes (with respect to the relations between citizens) which evidently conflict with the horizontal dimension of the (present Dutch) democratic legal order. As is the case for threat types 2 and 3, these forms of radical-puritan Islam oppose the civil society/civic culture as it has taken shape in the Western world. Unlike the above- described forms, they combine their resistance with a willingness to wage armed Jihad. Hence these forms of radical puritan Islam constitute an evident threat. An example of this violent radical-puritan Islam is the sub-movement within present-day Salafism, which is described as Salafiyya Jihadiyya. This variant of Salafism should be clearly distinguished from certain forms of Salafism based on the creed of spiritual leaders affiliated with, or tolerated by, governments of Islamic model countries (in particular Saudi Arabia) which are indeed strongly anti-Western and isolationist, but not explicitly Jihadist.

8. Orientation on the vertical dimension of the democratic legal order. Forms of radical Islam that pursue a form of government that is totally different from that of a democratic legal order, using overt and violent means (overt Jihad) [p. 43]

One thought on “The Rise of Salafism in the Netherlands

  1. Once again, sad sad evidence that the great multicultural experiments going on in Europe have failed miserably.

    It is one thing to have your own beliefs, but another to disrespect people like that. I can not wait to see Geert in the next elections.

    Is there going to be a 2010 Counter-jihad conference? If there is one in the works, then is there a proposed country? I would like to nominate Sweden, albeit Al-Aftonbladet will have a field day.

    In any case, Thomas Jefferson changed the declaration of independence to include “the pursuit of happiness,” these guys dont seem to be very happy. Maybe they should read said document.

    Instead of being angry, they might pursue happiness instead.

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