Forum for Democracy seems to be attracting more and more young Muslims. This has been noticed by pollster Aziz el Kaddouri, who has been researching the voting behavior of people with a migration background, including Muslims in the Netherlands, for twenty years. “Since the national elections of 2021, I see a shift. I can say that 1 in 10 Muslim youths tend to favor the FvD.” El Kaddouri makes this estimate based on recent polls.
Striking, given that party leader Thierry Baudet has often spoken negatively about Islam and Muslims. Although an anti-Islam policy is not part of his party programme, Baudet regularly votes in parliament for PVV motions against Islam.
For example in 2020, when Forum voted for Geert Wilders’ bill to ‘de-Islamize’ the Netherlands. The FvD voted against a motion by Denk to declare that Islam is part of the Netherlands and that Muslims are full citizens. Forum is also committed to combating migration.
It is precisely for these reasons that El Kaddouri calls the growing sympathy of some Muslims for Forum remarkable. “He can delete certain points from his program, or no longer emphasize them, but when I see motions passed by, he always votes anti-Islam.”
He’s anti-woke, so if you’re talking about nostalgia for traditional gender roles, Muslim youth might find that interesting too.
Yet the growing support of some young Muslims has not come out of the blue. The shift arose after corona, explains El Kaddouri. “All freedom restrictions during corona caused people to rebel against current politics. So if a party comes along that says: ‘We understand you, we have the same feelings’, they are sensitive to that.”
Furthermore, there are positions of the party that correspond to the values of some conservative Muslims. “He’s anti-woke, so if you talk about nostalgia for traditional gender roles, certain conservative Muslim youth might find that interesting too.”
Cooperation well-known Muslims
Baudet, in turn, seems to distance itself in various ways from previous statements about Islam. Recent interviews show a view of faith that is at odds with earlier statements. That became clear in a conversation with youtuber Salaheddine Benchiki. “I got to know many wonderful elements in Islam,” says Baudet. “An enemy image has been created about Islam and I have gone along with it myself. I have come back from that.”
Baudet’s attitude seems to have caught on among a certain group of conservative Muslim youths. “Gosh, I never thought I would be on the same page as Thierry Baudet. I assume he means all this sincerely,” it says in the comments below the video. Another calls Baudet a good leader and that he “deserves his vote”.
The prevailing sentiment is that Baudet would rebel against the establishment. “Those are marks of faith,” someone responds. “In The Hague, he is also the only one who speaks out against oppression on multiple points of view. Ever since I saw this, I had a good feeling about him, as a Moroccan Muslim here in the Netherlands. Everyone who fights oppression fights against the same enemy of Islam ‘ says someone else.
Through an online campaign, especially on TikTok, Baudet seems to be seeking rapprochement with the Muslim community:
Baudet also manages to get in touch with the Islamic community through other social media channels. He enters into collaborations with well-known Islamic Dutch people on TikTok and YouTube. For example, he makes a song with rapper Skiezo about opposing current politics and goes to the gym with ‘fitfluencer’ Kosso. Last Monday, an extensive interview with the Islam Omroep came online. The videos reach many young Muslims and young people with a migration background.
The NOS talked to several young Muslims who are members of FvD and are active for the party. Tanay Bilgin, party representative of the party in Amsterdam, says that at first he thought very differently about Forum. “But when I started looking into the views, I found that I actually very much agree with them. There is a prejudice that someone with a migration background should be left and not right,” says Bilgin.
Bilgin says he had question marks at first about the anti-Islam statements made by FvD members. “But I know them now and I don’t see any of it in real life or in their policies. I immediately felt at home with the Forum. I have never had any questions about my faith or background from other members or at meetings. We are often asked lumped together with the PVV, but that is just really unjustified.”
Friendly reminder for Muslims considering voting for FvD: Baudet is not your friend. Nor will it ever be. You are just electoral gain for him. He believes in the superiority of the white race and considers your DNA and IQ inferior. https://t.co/PLd5E4IKFW
March 15, 2023
Many other Dutch Muslims call the trend worrying and speak out on social media against the sympathy of Muslim youth for the FvD. Some warn the Islamic community about Baudet’s ‘social media tricks’.
El Kaddouri also doubts Baudet’s intentions: “I don’t know whether he really found love with Muslims – I can’t look into his head – but you can see very clearly that he has not necessarily become more sympathetic to Muslims , but a little less anti-Muslims. What’s behind that, I personally think is purely electoral, but time will tell.”