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Mosques in the Netherlands investigated by private companies: Report

At least 10 Dutch municipalities have been investigating mosques and Islamic institutions through private companies, local media reported
Muslims gather in a mosque in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 13 May 2021 (AFP)

Local media has revealed that at least 10 towns and cities in the Netherlands have been secretly investigating mosques and Islamic institutions through private companies. 

According to local daily NRC Handelsblad, mosque association officials and members active in the Muslim community were investigated by Nuance door Training and Advice (NTA) on behalf of municipalities, using unlawful undercover methods. 

NTA staff reportedly entered mosques and visited community leaders without revealing their true identities in municipalities including Rotterdam, Delft, Almere, Huizen, Leidschendam-Voorburg, Zoetermeer, Veenendaal and Ede.

The investigations have cost an estimated total of $347,990, NRC Handelsblad wrote.

The newspaper also found that investigative reports were written up, but were not made public nor shared with the municipal councils and the organisations that were investigated. 

The news has caused discontent among Muslim communities, who feel they have been "othered" through the secret investigations.

Spior, an organisation representing Muslims which encourages their participation in Dutch society, issued a statement calling the investigations an example of Islamophobia.

“With a government that so violently and radically portrays the Muslim community as the ‘other’ and ‘potentially dangerous’, populism seems to have reached the upper government levels,” the organisation said.

Earlier this year, far-right politician Geert Wilders campaigned to close mosques, Islamic schools and ban the Quran in the Netherlands. His party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), also called for the establishment of a ministry for “repatriation” and de-Islamification.