Wednesday, October 20

Meet the anti-racist activist taking on the Dutch right in this week’s elections


Holland has a reputation in Europe as a liberal state; however, this week’s elections will be dominated by Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PVV), on the center-right and far-right respectively.

Sylvana Simons, a former TV host and left-wing BIJ1 leader, is trying to change that, running for parliament on an equality platform, under which schools and health and tax systems make no distinctions for gender, race, sexuality. or religion.

“I am proud of our party’s electoral program,” Simons told Euronews.

“It is written for the people we want to support. Youth Caregivers, Sex Workers, Education Professionals, Youth, Blacks, Parents, Trans and Non-Binary People, People with Disabilities, and Muslim Women.

“All the people who haven’t been heard enough so far, but who have a lot to say. BIJ1 is making noise in parliament.”

In May 2016, Simons joined the leftist DENK, but left the party at the end of December 2016 and founded Artikel 1. He participated in the 2017 parliamentary elections and the name of the party was later changed to BIJ1.

His political leadership does not suit everyone in the Netherlands. On Monday, the party reported 52 hate messages with racist, sexist and degrading content for LGBTQ to the Amsterdam Police Discrimination Unit.

This was confirmed by a report by Utrecht Data School and De Groene Amsterdammer magazine, which examined 339,932 tweets addressed to candidates in this election for hateful messages and threats in the period between October 1, 2020 and February 26, 2021 .

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In Simons’ case, the results showed 3,122 hateful and / or aggressive tweets, which is roughly 20 percent of all tweets.

For Kauthar Bouchallikht, of the left-wing green party Groenlinks, things were even worse. Because she has Moroccan roots and wears a headscarf, more than 30 percent of the messages she receives are hateful tweets.

On Tuesday night, during a televised debate between Wilders and former Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag (D66) on Dutch television, Wilders accused the minister of treason for wearing a headscarf during a trip to Iran. .

“Freedom means one’s own choice. How I dress and whether I wear a veil or not, for women who want that. I went to Iran as Minister of Foreign Trade to discuss the security of the region and Israel. Required by law to wear a headscarf, I do. This is a situation of international concern, “he replied.

Kaag was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in October 2017. She also briefly assumed the duties of Foreign Minister between February and March 2018 due to a resignation. At his inauguration, Wilders’ PVV and the national-conservative FvD party voiced criticism that Kaag is married to a Palestinian who is politically active for his country.

FvD President Thierry Baudet once again describes this criticism as justified in the documentary From Beirut to Binnenhof, published in 2021 and shown on Dutch television, in which Kaag is portrayed.

BIJ1’s chances of winning a seat in parliament are quite small, as the electoral forecast for them is less than one percent. (March 16, 2021)

For Sigrid Kaag and D66, on the other hand, things look better as D66 is a coalition party in the current government.


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