The Democracy Forum seems to be attracting more and more young Muslims. This was the finding of pollster Aziz el Kaddouri, who has been investigating the voting behavior of people with a migrant background, including Muslims, in the Netherlands for two decades. “I see a change since the 2021 national elections. I can say that one in ten Muslim youth is pro-FvD.” El Kaddouri makes this estimate based on recent surveys.
Notable given that party leader Thierry Baudet often speaks negatively about Islam and Muslims. Although an anti-Islamic policy is not part of the party program, Baudet regularly votes in parliament for anti-Islamic PVV resolutions.
For example, in 2020, when the forum voted on Geert Wilders’ bill to “Islamize” the Netherlands. The FvD voted against Denk’s motion to declare Islam part of the Netherlands and Muslims as full citizens. The Forum is also involved in the fight against immigration.
It is precisely for these reasons that El Kaddouri describes the growing sympathy of some Muslims for the forum as remarkable. “He may remove or no longer highlight certain points from his program, but he always votes against Islam when I see motions passed.”
But the growing support of some young Muslims does not appear out of the blue. El Kaddouri explains that the change took place after Corona. “All the restrictions on freedoms in the time of corona caused people to rebel against the current politics. That’s why when a party comes along and says, ‘We understand you, we share the same feelings’, they are sensitive to it.”
The party also has positions that coincide with the values of some conservative Muslims. “He is an anti-vigilance. So if you talk about nostalgia for traditional gender roles, some conservative Muslim youth might find it interesting as well.”
Cooperation of Prominent Muslims
Baudet, on the other hand, seems to have moved away from previous explanations of Islam in various ways. Recent interviews show a view of faith that contradicts previous statements. This became clear in a conversation with YouTuber Salaheddine Benchiki. “I got to know many wonderful elements of Islam,” Baudet says. “There was an image of an enemy regarding Islam, and I experienced it. I came back from him.”
Baudet’s stance appears to have been favored by a certain group of conservative Muslim youth. “God, I never thought I’d be on the same page as Thierry Baudet. I’m assuming you mean all this sincerely.” reading the comments below the video. Another says Baudet is a good leader and “deserves the game”.
The view that Baudet will rebel against the order is dominant. Someone replies, “These are signs of faith.” “He’s also the only one in The Hague to speak out for oppression from different angles. Ever since I saw this, I felt good about him as a Moroccan Muslim here in the Netherlands. Whoever fights against oppression declares war against the same enemy of Islam,’ says another.
Baudet seems to be trying to get closer to the Muslim community through an online campaign, primarily TikTok:
Baudet also manages to communicate with the Islamic community through other social media channels. He collaborates with well-known Islamic Dutch on TikTok and YouTube. For example, he does a song about resistance to current politics with rapper Skiezo and hits the gym with “Fitfluencer” Kosso. A detailed interview with Islam Omroep went online last Monday, she. The videos reach many Muslim youth and youth with a migrant background.
NOS met with several young Muslims who are members of the FvD and active in the party. The party’s Amsterdam representative, Tanay Bilgin, says that she initially thought of the forum very differently. “But as I started exploring the views, I realized that I actually agreed with them. There is a prejudice that someone with a migrant background should stand on the left, not on the right,” says Bilgin.
Bilgin says that there are question marks about the anti-Islamic statements of FvD members. But now I know them and I don’t see any of them in real life or in their politics. I felt right at home on the forum. I have never been asked about my beliefs or background from other members or in meetings. We are often lumped together with PVV, but this is not justified.”
Many other Dutch Muslims describe this trend as alarming and use social media to criticize Muslim youth’s sympathy for the FvD. Some warn the Islamic community of Baudet’s “social media games”.
El Kaddouri also has doubts about Baudet’s intentions: “I don’t know if he really likes Muslims – I can’t read his head – but you can see very clearly that he hasn’t become more sympathetic towards Muslims. he is a little less anti-Muslim. I think what’s behind that is purely selective, but time will tell.”
Emma Fitzgerald is an accomplished political journalist and author at The Nation View. With a background in political science and international relations, she has a deep understanding of the political landscape and the forces that shape it.