Dutch Muslim converts who have been persecuted by their former Muslim communities are finding new ways of coping with their experience, following a spate of recent public displays of solidarity with the group.
A growing number of Muslim converts are now taking on the role of public figures in the Netherlands, including prominent Muslim figures such as Muhammad bin Rashid al-Mukhtar, an outspoken critic of Islam, and Jibril Rajoub, the minister of justice.
Many Dutch Muslims are embracing this new role, with the number of mosques and Islamic schools increasing by around 15 per cent per year, according to the Dutch Council for Islam.
These efforts are also being welcomed by many Dutch Muslims, who have become increasingly outspoken in their criticism of Islam and the Muslim faith.
In the Netherlands alone, the number who have gone public with their faith has risen from around 7,000 in 2008 to almost 25,000 this year, and there are over 500 mosques.
“The Dutch have always been a very open society, so it is important for us to show our support for them and also show our concern for them, but also for the future of the Netherlands,” said Muslim convert Nasser Jarrar, who has also worked as a social worker and a social commentator.
He said his new role in the public sphere helped him to connect with his former Muslim community, who were not in contact with each other and had not been in contact at all since the 1990s.
“I have been living with them and I have become their voice, and they know that I am not an outsider anymore,” Jarra said.
Jarrab, a Dutch citizen, converted in the late 1980s after growing up in the country’s north.
The Dutch are known as a tolerant society, but they have also experienced a significant rise in the number and level of xenophobic violence against Muslim minorities in recent years.
In 2016, the Netherlands experienced more than 2,500 attacks against Muslim people in the second-biggest European country, the United Kingdom.
Jerrab, who is a Christian, says he was particularly concerned about the recent rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.
“We have a problem that needs addressing,” he said.
“There are too many people out there, who are anti-Islamic, and it is only going to get worse because the Dutch are becoming more open.
We are in a crisis right now.”
He believes that Muslims need to be allowed to live openly and to practise their faith without fear.
“This is the future we want,” he explained.
“And we are here to make sure that it happens.”