How the Dutch embed anti-radicalisation efforts in stronger local “joined-up” government and co-operation

Radicalisation amongst young muslims often starts with exclusion from job opportunities, dropping out of school and/or sliding into petty crime and youth vandalism. Many famous jihadis started out as drinking, partying and stealing adolescents and youths; to be turned around abruptly like many converted “sinners” in many religions. It is also connected to growing up in problematic families (from which orthodox or jihadi Islam seems to offer a refuge; certainties their own family fails to offer).

And intelligence about who is at risk of such radicalization trajectories always starts with good, steady community policing; in Tim Farron’s words: with “information being passed on”, and building up “knowledge about who’s who, and who needs to be kept under surveillance”. Cutting police numbers outside the “terrorism specialists” as May claims to have done, means cutting more into ordinary community policing.

The Netherlands also has had native jihadis killing people on the street (for example the 2004 killing of muslim-mocking polemicist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh.  The jihadist propaganda from the Belgian/Flemish “Sharia4Belgium/Sharia4Holland”-sect spilled over into Dutch public debates, inviting Anjem Choudari to a 2011 press conference.

And when ISIS was conquering Iraqi/Syrian cities, the center of The Hague saw supporting demonstrations brandishing black ISIS banners in July/August 2014, addressed in English by jihadi demagogues. Some organisers and participants of those demonstrations went to the ISIS caliphate to fight, and sent propaganda videos about their fight and the caliphate back to Dutch contacts and friends.

The Van Gogh murder, Sharia4Holland and The Hague demonstrations led to a joining-up (in 2013-4) of (a) specialist parts of Dutch local government (people from schools and local education departments, Social Services and Youth Care and Protection, (health) care workers), (b) police (community police and other police departments) and judiciary, and (c) the “Reclassering” (=post-prison Rehabilitation Service). The Association of Local Governments (“VNG”, official lobby of all local government councils and executives; also joined in. They set up “Safety Houses” in big cities in the 25 “Safety Regions” in the Netherlands (see English information video in which a plan (involving both punishment and help) is jointly drawn up for each problematic family or individual, co-ordinated by one designated person in the platform. Dealing mainly with schooling, youth delinquency and suchlike, the “safety House” platform has also proved useful in signaling (and alerting other participant institutions to) signs of radicalization, and youth crime turning into jihadi activism; the VNG insists on also using this platform to nip radicalization in the bud.

The advantage of the “Safety House”-platform is police giving and receiving information about families and individuals in situations possibly leading to people getting radicalized; and from a broad range of sources beside their own contacts and informants.

* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.

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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Jun '17 - 12:37am


    You are D66 , I would be probably if in your country.

    It is surely true that as our party contains you , so it contains a smattering of more VVD oriented Liberals.

    On these issues, as you show in Holland, with no need to foolishly overreact, we need a little VVD strength on these issues.

    Thrashing out tougher policies need not in any sense sacrifice traditional concern for the innocent until proven guilty policy we hold dear as Liberals and as backers of Great , and it is that, British justice.

    Yet I feel the slipshod wording of “roll back ” powers manifesto -wise, hurts us.

    We need to be specific. We oppose the Act not the principles of surveillance and security.

    Our coalition record was good on this agenda, stronger than many would think, ironic when support for the Tories thus on other issues damages.

    I cannot be as blinkered and fandom oriented as many on this site at the sheer nonsense of Labour milking this , we are Tories stuff, we are fair, and balanced , and care about people.

    We should make more of it as Liberal Democrat patriots and win on an agenda where we have real credibility if our stance and spokespeople conveyed this better .

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