Yesterday evening, the Dutch television program Nova caused considerable embarrassment in the Netherlands by revealing how the Turkish government influenced last months’ Dutch general elections. In an e-mail sent to thousands of ethnic Turks in the Netherlands the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs called on them to vote for Fatma Koser Kaya, a 38-year old woman whose family emigrated to the Netherlands when she was six years old. Koser Kaya is a member of the leftist “social-liberal” Democrats 66 (D66) party. On 22 November, D66 lost three of its previous six seats in Parliament. Koser Kaya, however, though only sixth on the list of D66 candidates, was elected as one of the party’s three parliamentarians thanks to the 34,564 individual votes she got, possibly as a result of the Turkish government’s interference.
Immigrants are known to overwhelmingly vote for candidates of their own ethnic group. Since they have often not integrated in the country where they have settled their loyalties lie with their countries of origin. This has created a situation where the immigrants in Western democracies become Trojan horses of foreign nationalism and religious fanaticism. This phenomenon became apparent in this year’s local elections in the Netherlands and in neighbouring Belgium. It tipped the balance in favour of parties that put forward immigrant candidates. At the same time, however, it worked to the disadvantage of indigenous candidates on these parties’ lists, causing considerable resentment among the latter.
In an e-mail, sent from a government address in Ankara, the Turks in the Netherlands were asked to vote for Koser Kaya. The e-mail was sent by Ali Alaybeyoglu, the advisor to Mehmet Aydin, the Turkish minister of Religious Affairs. The first paragraph reads:
“We all realize that no-one can represent Turks better than Turks. The Turkish community is threatened by assimilation. If we do not unite and vote for a common candidate our position will only worsen in future.”
The e-mail lists five reasons why Turks should vote for Koser Kaya. The most important one is the fact that D66 does not recognize the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915. The four other reasons have to do with D66’s opposition to the policies of Rita Verdonk, the Dutch minister of Integration.
The Armenian issue became a topic in the Dutch general elections when the two leading parties in the country, the Christian-Democrats and Labour, refused to put forward candidates of Turkish origin who did not accept the party line that there was a genocide of the Armenians in 1915. As a reaction Turkish lobby groups initiated a campaign to urge Dutch voters of Turkish ancestry to boycott any party that labels the 1915 mass killing of Armenians a genocide.
The e-mail from the Turkish ministry lists the Dutch parties and points out why, apart from D66, they are not acceptable to Turks. The Christian-Democrats and Labour are excluded because of their position on the genocide, the Liberal Party VVD because it “is the party of Verdonk and Hirsi Ali,” the Animal Rights Party because it considers “animals to be more important than Turks,” and the Calvinist Party because it “is preparing a new crusade.”
Today, the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted Ankara about the affair. The Turkish Minister of Religious Affairs said he knows nothing about an e-mail. Minister Aydin added that if this e-mail had indeed been sent he strongly condemns it. “We do not interfere in the internal politics of our friends,” he said. Aydin’s collaborator Alaybeyoglu, the man who allegedly sent the e-mail, said that several people have access to his e-mail address. According to the Dutch ministry the matter is still under investigation.
More on the growing importance of the Muslim vote in the Low Countries:
Pat Buchanan Wins Dutch Elections, 23 November 2006
Belgian and Dutch Parties Try to Put Genie Back in the Bottle, 12 October 2006
Bruxellabad, 10 October 2006
Brussels: Elected Politician Barred from Office for Leaflet, 4 October 2006
Grey Wolves in Politics: The Immigrant Far-Right Joins the European Left, 10 September 2006
Dutch Socialist Leader in Fear of Muslim Party Members, 19 March 2006
Muslim Vote Tips the Balance in Netherlands, 8 March 2006
Lessons to Be Learned: How to Criticize the Prophet, 11 February 2006
Meet the Mayor of Brussels: She’s a Muslim, 16 January 2006