August 2023 | Far-right Dutch Pegida leader desecrates Quran in The Hague
Following the Quran desecrations in Denmark and Sweden, the far-right Dutch Pegida leader, Edwin Wagensveld, tore up a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in The Hague. A counter-protest organised by the DENK political party to condemn Wagensveld’s actions took place simultaneously. Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz declared that she personally thinks the act is ‘primitive and sad,’ but added that it’s a freedom allowed in the country. The minister also cautioned that the act could lead to an increased terror threat, as seen in Sweden. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Dutch deputy ambassador to condemn the act. Wagensveld has provoked protests in the past as well, when he tore up a copy of the Quran and referred to it as a “fascist book”, a remark for which he has yet to appear in court for hate speech.
July 2023 | Government collapses amid migration row
Mark Rutte, the longest-serving Prime Minister in the Netherlands, resigned on 8 July due to irreconcilable differences in opinion between the coalition parties on migration policy. Of the four parties in the 18-month-old coalition, Rutte’s Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy and the Christian Democrats supported a stricter approach compared to D66 and the Christian Union (ChristenUnie). Specific issues debated included whether the rights of family members to join refugees should be restricted. A general election will be held in autumn. Until then, Rutte’s government will act in a caretaker capacity. The fragmented 20-party lower house, along with the rapid rise of the populist Farmer-Citizen Movement party in the March 2023 provincial elections, add another layer of uncertainty to the country’s political future.
May 2023 | Police arrest over 1500 climate activists for blocking motorway
More than 1500 climate activists were arrested for blocking a motorway in the Hague as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Water cannons were fired at protesters. Police said that the purpose of the arrests was to end the A12 motorway’s blockade as protesting on this road is banned under regulations introduced by the mayor, and that most of those arrested were released with only 40 being prosecuted due to criminal offences, including vandalism and resisting arrest resulting in injury.
April 2023 | Court rules current work restriction for asylum seekers conflicts EU law
A court in Arnhem ruled that the existing regulation limiting asylum seekers to work for up to 24 weeks a year conflicts with the EU’s Reception Conditions Directive, and that the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) may no longer reject applications of asylum seekers working more than 24 weeks per year. The decision comes following the case of an asylum seeker whose application for a new work permit was rejected by the UWV, because he had exceeded the 24 weeks limit. The EU directive mandates that EU member countries provide asylum seekers with access to the labour market.