Dutch Muslim groups file UN complaint against ‘witch hunt’ parliamentary committee

Dutch Muslim groups file UN complaint against ‘witch hunt’ parliamentary committee
A Muslim group has filed a UN complaint against a Dutch parliamentary committee, which it accuses of orchestrating a 'witch hunt' by deliberately targeting Muslims and Muslim organisations.
2 min read
26 April, 2023
The parliamentary committee labelled donations from a number of Arab countries as 'problematic' [Getty]

A coalition of Muslim groups in the Netherlands have filed a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee against a Dutch parliamentary committee over allegations they deliberately targeted Muslims and Muslim organisations.

The Ummah Project, a team of lawyers, filed the 82-page complaint on behalf of "Muslim dignitaries" Hamid Tahiri, Jacob van der Blom, and Nasr El-Damanhoury who were "interrogated as criminals" by the committee for hours, according to a press release from the Ummah Project.

The Dutch Parliamentary Committee on Unwanted Foreign Influence was tasked in 2020 on behalf of the Dutch government with investigating social and religious institutions, such as mosques, for foreign influence.

"The investigation by POCOB gave itself an objective and non-discriminatory cover, in reality, the focus was exclusively on Muslims and Muslim organisations," the Ummah Project press release said. 

"This exclusive focus on Islam and Muslims is in violation of fundamental human rights, and in particular the non-discrimination principle according to [UN convention]," the organisation said. 

"This resulted in a classic witch hunt against Muslims and Islamic organisations." 

The Ummah Project claimed the Dutch government labelled funding flows from Morocco, Turkey, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as problematic. 

The three men represented in the complaint were summoned by the committee as witnesses, and were threatened with imprisonment if they failed to show up. 

Clips from the hearing show Muslim witnesses being subjected to intense interrogation. 

Jacob van der Blom, the chairman of the Blauwe Moskee (Blue Mosque) in Amsterdam, said in a statement: "In the constitution here in the Netherlands, we agreed to not treat each other differently based on religion or colour - this is clearly what happened here though."

"They had already decided upon the outcome and all the questions, the speakers and the order of the meetings," he said of his committee appearances.

According to the Hamburg-based data website Statista, around 5% of the Netherlands' population are Muslims. 

Muslims in the Netherlands often face discrimination widely believed to be fuelled by the normalisation of Islamophobia and the increasing influence of the far right in politics.