SHAFAQNA – Four of the largest mosques in The Netherlands say they will shut their doors during major prayer meetings after six people were killed in attack on a Canadian mosque.
The decision came on Monday following an emergency council meeting of mosque leaders of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrech.
Several thousand people attend prayers at the four mosques daily. Said Bouharrou of the Dutch Moroccan Council of Mosques (RMMN) said it was disappointing that stringent safety measures had to be taken.
“A mosque is an open building that should be accessible at any time of day to all people looking for peace and calm. But we have to be alert against these terror attacks,” he said.
Six people died and eight others were injured late Sunday when gunmen opened fire at a Quebec City mosque in a shooting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack.”
“Merciless acts such as in Quebec contribute to the growing global hatred of Muslims,” Bouharrou said.
The Netherlands is facing parliamentary elections in March with anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders leading in opinion polls.
Wilders said he would close all mosques and Islamic schools and ban the Qur’an if he becomes the country’s next prime minister.
Although no specific threats have been made against mosques in the Netherlands, Bouharrou said the RMMN was keeping a close eye on political developments, ahead of next month’s vote.
“There is considerable anxiety ahead of these elections. A politician like Mr. Wilders has had clear viewpoints (about Islam) over the last few years,” he said.
Wildres was found guilty of discrimination by a court in Netherlands in December. He was leading a group of people chanting against Moroccans at a campaign rally in 2014.
Based on figures published by the Dutch police, Islamophobic harassment has rose sharply in 2015. At least 446 incidents of violent or verbal attacks were recorded; this is while in 2014 only 142 similar incidents were accounted for.