Fear of the other: when will it escalate?

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Loes Broen

About a month ago I moved to Belfast. I did not really have a reason to leave except for just wanting to get out of the Netherlands, away from all the blabla about the crisis and the increasing fear for everyone who is not Dutch.

However, although I did not have a particular reason to go to Belfast, Belfast (or Northern Ireland) has a very troubled history. Even now, in 2013, there are still remains of the hatred between Catholics and Protestants. A war that has its origins more than hundred years ago (by Prince of Orange William III) still defines a country and its cities.

This makes me wonder about the Netherlands. What will hatred do to this country? Demonstrations organised by the Party of Freedom (PVV) on the 21st of September this year were visited by different neo-Nazi groups who used the Nazi-salute. It is not that I am worried about these demonstrations themselves. What worries me is that Geert Wilders does not distance himself from these groups.

How will the Netherlands look like in about twenty years? Will we have walls that divide Dutch from all other nationalities? Will non-Dutch live in fear because they might get randomly shot just because of their nationality, skin colour or religion? Maybe I am too pessimistic but it has not been that long that these things happened in Belfast. And still the violence has not completely ended.

We should not forget that the (political) language and breeding terror are very powerful methods that can create immensely strong emotions. In the Netherlands Wilders and his party are very driven in this and not without result: a lot of people seem to agree with his thoughts.

In Belfast (Northern Ireland) the majority of the violence has ended in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Nevertheless, it will always be haunted by its history.

In the Netherlands, different nationalities and religions have always lived side by side, but when politicians like Wilders continue their muck-racking campaign towards almost all non-Dutch, violence will start. Let’s hope that people will never lose hope and that they keep on believing in respect and equality.

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