Sunday, October 24, 2010

Netherlands: Christian asylum-seekers threatened by Muslims

THE HAGUE - In many refugee centers in the Netherlands, Christians are often threatened or assaulted by Muslim inmates. This emerges from the research by the Gave Foundation, the results of which were presented Tuesday on Dutch TV in the program Uitgesproken from the broadcaster EO [Evangelical Broadcaster].

At the initiative of the Christian Union, a majority of Parliament has called to stop the asylum procedures for asylum-seekers who have committed repeated serious threats or physical violence. Parliament also demands that the Immigration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers [CDA —Christian Democrat] investigate the exact extent of the problem, and set up an independent hotline where asylum-seekers can report anonymously when they are threatened or assaulted by other asylum-seekers.[1]

According the Gave Foundation, a Christian organization that provides assistance to asylum-seekers, 75 percent of Christians in the refugee centers are confronted with discrimination. In 67 percent of the centers (death) threats occur, and in 33 percent there is mention of physical violence. According to employees of the foundation, which examined 28 refugee centers, Muslims are mostly responsible for the violence and threats against the Christian asylum-seekers.[2]

Christian Union MP Joël Voordewind is shocked about such conduct, and speaks of “religious persecution”. The group of former Muslims who converted to Christianity, he said, is especially vulnerable. “It is terrible that people who often have fled because of their faith to the Netherlands, and should be safe here, are being suppressed,” Voordewind said.

Minister Leers said in a response that he takes the message of the report seriously. He wants to read the full study to see whether and what measures are needed.

The ‘Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum-Seekers’ (COA) “absolutely does not” recognize itself in the results of the study. “Safety and livability is the core of our reception work. When this becomes an issue for individual residents, we take appropriate measures. This applies not only to intimidation on religious grounds, but also when it concerns political beliefs, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or other issues,” the COA said in a written statement.


[1] At present, witness reports can be passed through to Gave Foundation [service desk].
[2] Gave Foundation contributed to this broadcast with an email survey [doc] of a total of 24 individuals who had contact with asylum-seekers. These 24 people had contacts in 28 different refugee centers.

1) Do you know asylum-seekers who as Christians (and/or ex-Muslims) have to deal with discrimination on account of their Christianity in a refugee center?:
Yes 75%
No 25%

2) Is there also question of death threats?
Yes 67%
No 6%
Unknown 27%

3) Is there also question of physical violence?
Yes 33%
No 40%
Unknown 27%

4) What examples have been mentioned of discrimination, threats and/or physical violence?
1. One of our youngsters from Pakistan felt very threatened. I heard that Muslims who knew him even burnt Christian books outside his door. Of another Afghan youth I know that as much as possible he keeps the fact that he is a Christian secret, out of fear of Muslims. I have also heard that an Afghan woman has problems with her husband because she is a Christian (she no longer lives at AZC [asylum center]).
2. A Pakistani boy’s books were burned. Many Kurds say: I’d rather not say in the AZC that I am a Christian, because they then won’t be nice to me. I notice that many youngsters also won’t show up (e.g. for a Bible study) when others will also not go, because they are ashamed.
3. Christians from Eritrea who live next to Somalis in the AZC, were told in the shared kitchen: No Muslim, you eat oink oink meat? The children (6 and 4 years) came home after an afternoon playing with Muslim children. They wished they could become Muslims, “then we won’t be harassed anymore”.
4. During Ramadan, for Muslims who have recently been baptized and now are Christians, it is impossible not to join Ramadan, if they want to keep it secret that they have become Christians.
5. On the sly, in small harassments with your bike (empty tires, etc.) or with pebbles against the windows. Or slander among themselves or about/with children. Or by completely ignoring and refusing to help each other (especially among women), etc. In short: the pressure and the feeling of insecurity is big and frightening.
6. Afghans, before they get in my car (this is a Christian who wants to pick up asylum-seekers for activities), prefer to first walk two streets away and then get in unseen. Especially for Somalis, they are afraid that there are Taliban or Al Qaida amongst them.

De Telegraaf, Gates of Vienna

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