Something rotten in the state of Netherlands

Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH ProIgual

Geert Wilders, a controversial Dutch politician, is riding high in the polls. “The fact that he has been charged with fomenting hatred and discrimination has, if anything, only served to increase his popularity, at home and abroad”, report the media: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8549155.stm .

Well, if being branded racist helps win the elections, what does it say about the society? Ironically, the Netherlands used to be synonymous with tolerance and open-mindedness. But it feels so long ago that not many even remember it. In the past decade the headlines about that country were mostly about controversial politicians (Pim Fortuyn, Rita Verdonk, Geert Wilders), Islamophobia, restricting immigration, banning muslim dress, and the like.

Tolerant reputation, as any good reputation, is much easier to lose than to earn. Too bad the Dutch politicians don´t seem to bother.

Some may ask, why should anyone bother about their country´s racist reputation? Perhaps, the counterparts from Australia can answer that. Following a wave of hate crimes against foreign (mostly Indian) students there, the number of willing to study in Australia Indian students dropped considerably, costing the economy almost $70m (£44m) in one year, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8444870.stm .

So, if moral considerations are not enough, the money should do the talking to convince those in the Netherlands who believe the country would be better off if they chase all the undesirable groups away. Just do the math, please!

P