Racism in Netherlands: ‘One less Turk’ police say after teen murdered

Another institutional racism case has unfolded in the Netherlands as an investigation into police officers who were given a warning for their racially discriminatory views continues.

Last month, an investigation revealed that five police officers in Rotterdam used offensive and derogatory remarks against immigrants in a WhatsApp group. Despite the police officers being condemned for their actions, new reports revealed that they went beyond these expressions, saying “One less Turk” regarding 16-year-old Hümeyra Ergincanlı, who was murdered in 2018.

According to a report by U.K. public broadcaster BBC, citing Dutch NRC newspaper, Rotterdam police called Ergincanlı’s family and requested a meeting after the publication of the article. The meeting was held on Wednesday, where officials said that offensive remarks by police officers actually targeted judicial institutions against the possibility of a slight punishment for Ergincanlı’s killer.

The lawyer of the Ergincanlı family, Nelleke Stolk, said that the Ergincanlı family's trust in the police had already diminished due to rejection of Hümeyra's request for protection against the murderer before the killing. She said that the latest racially motivated incident completely destroyed the family’s confidence.

Turks are the second-largest ethnic group in the Netherlands following the Dutch, with a population of about 2 million. Up until the last decade, the Netherlands was considered to be a country like Germany in terms of its Turkish diaspora but sentiments changed and by 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) had released a report highlighting that the country's legislation violates the rights of the Turks.

Pioneered by some prominent politicians such as Geert Wilders, racist rhetoric has become mainstream in the Netherlands in recent years. Reports have shown that state institutions started to embrace discriminatory attitudes while providing basic services.

Back in May 2020, the Dutch tax authority admitted to having used applicants' second nationality as an official criterion in determining the risk of fraud – a method that has been in implementation since 2012. The authority also confessed that over 11,000 people with dual nationality were subject to stricter checks than Dutch citizens without a second nationality. The Hague-based privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) said on July 17, 2020, that the tax authority had obtained the information on the families' second nationalities illegally.

Concerned Muslim citizens established the DENK Party in February 2015 to focus on combating widespread racism, discrimination and xenophobia.

According to a statement delivered by DENK, the party’s deputy Stephan van Baarle asked the Rotterdam mayor to apologize to the Ergincanlı family and expel the racist police officers in question from duty.

He added that Rotterdam Police Chief Fred Westerbek lost his reliability as he has not shown enough effort against racism.

Over the past decade, the tolerant political climate designed to allow for the freedom of speech has allowed far-right sympathizers with violent tendencies to expand their scope in Europe, including the Netherlands.

As a result of this, Turkish mosques in Europe are frequently the target of Islamophobic attacks, the latest of which took place at a mosque in the city of Zaandam in the northwestern Netherlands in November. Mosques in the Netherlands have endured dozens of attacks of varying extent in recent years.

The culprits often attempt to burn the religious buildings down using explosives or Molotov cocktails and deface the walls, spray-painting terrorist symbols and racial slurs.



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