A Muslim republic in the Netherlands? An interview with Henny Kreeft: By Eren Güvercin


Henny Kreeft is the leader of the Netherland's Muslim Party (NMP). In this interview with freelance writer Eren Güvercin he talks about his unusual route to NMP leadership and the main goals of his party.
Mr. Kreeft, why was the NMP founded?
Henny Kreeft: The initial idea for a party came from two Dutch Muslims in 2007. I read an article about it, telephoned them and we eventually met up. After that, they asked me to take over where they had left off. I had wanted to take some time to think about it, but in the end I agreed. They passed on the project to me, and I created the party as it is today.
Reading their party manifesto I realised that it represented a response to the attacks on Islam and Muslims. I accepted this element, but I wanted the NMP to be more than just a one-issue party. So I made it a real party.
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders' party, Party for Freedom (PVV) is extremely successful in the Netherlands. Why do you think that is?
If you repeat a message over and over again, eventually people will start believing it, especially if it's being reported in the media on a daily basis. What happened was that after 9/11, some youth from a Moroccan background experienced problems in Holland. Wilders took it from there and added his interpretation of sections of the Holy Qur'an, thereby creating a major problem out of what had only been a minor problem to begin with.
What is the NMP's approach to this party?
First, we have to explain that Islam does not equate with war, but that it is about peace, solidarity, family issues—and that Dutch Muslims just want to lead normal lives here like everybody else. We intend to mend the rift between Muslims and non-Muslims and to improve the negative image of Islam.
Second, we have to invest in our future, and the most important way and probably the only way to do this is to invest in our youth.
What are the key points of your party programme?
Apart from improving relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and investment in our young people, we also oppose the ban on the burqa (a garment that fully covers a woman's body, head and face). We believe a woman should be able to make a free choice whether she wears one or not.
Are there only Dutch citizens in the NMP, or are there Muslim members from other backgrounds?
We are open to people of all origins. At the moment our members include Dutch people, and people of Moroccan and Bangladeshi origin.
What about the NMP's election chances? Do they look good?
We'll have to wait for the local elections in March, the results should give us an idea of what the NMP can actually achieve in the Netherlands. A professor at Amsterdam University recently predicted that we could get four seats in the local council. But I would be happy with a minimum of two.
What is the NMP's message to Dutch society?
Don't be afraid. We don't want to establish a "Muslim republic" in the Netherlands! We are simply a Dutch political party, working within the law in Holland, and anybody can join us.

* Eren Güvercin is a freelance writer. This abridged interview is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from www.qantara.de

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