The Immigrants: The rise of the extreme right in the Netherlands, Part 2
Rabin Baldewsingh came to The Netherlands as a 13-year-old, a Hindu from the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. Today he's Deputy Mayor of The Hague, responsible for Social Affairs and Integration. It's an immigrant story with a happy ending, but it's not a track most new immigrants might be able to follow -- the Dutch are struggling with a rise of right-wing, anti-immigrant sentiment on the eve of national elections.
"In The Netherlands people see diversity as a weakness. People see diversity as a fear...and when populism is there: hatred comes in. And that is what is tearing this community apart."
-- Rabin Baldewsingh, Deputy Mayor of The Hague
On March 15th the people of the Netherlands go to the polls. It's a fractious time. Four hundred years of peace, order and good government might be flipped on their collective head. The last century of collective compromise, finding the middle way that keeps most people happy most of the time -- all that might just get thrown for a loop.
And the cause of that loop-throwing? A man named Geert Wilders, leader of a one-person party called the Party for Freedom, has been effectively rocking the boat. He wants to end Muslim immigration, close the mosques and ban the Koran. "The Netherlands ours again" is his battle cry, and a large chunk of the population agree with him -- he might just win the most seats in the next parliament.
In Part 2 of this series, Philip Coulter takes us to the capital city of The Hague, with a population of half a million, a third of them non-western immigrants - translation: Turks, Indonesians, Moroccans and Surinamese.
Guests in this episode:
- Chris Aalberts is a researcher in political communication at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a prolific blogger and commentator on Dutch politics.
- Rabin Baldewsingh, Deputy Mayor of The Hague.
**This episode was produced by Philip Coulter.