Former Islamophobe and far-right Dutch MP converts to Islam
On the Dutch television program Nieuwlicht, van Klaveren was asked, "So, are you really Muslim?" His response: "Well if you believe that there is one God and that Mohammad is a prophet alongside others such as Jesus and Moses, then yes, you are Muslim."
Van Klaveren worked very closely with the Geert Wilders, the infamous leader of the Party for Freedom, and was the parliamentary spokesperson on issues related to Islam. In this role he described Moroccans as homophobic, anti-Semitic and more likely to be involved with violent crime, saying “the legitimacy for all of this comes from Islam”. He is known to have said, “Islam is a lie,” and “the Quran is poison".
He is not the first from within the party to convert. Arnoud van Doorn, who worked on Wilder’s anti-Muslim documentary, converted in 2013. In Germany, the far-right politician Arthur Wagner converted in 2018.
|“I discovered many Islamic sources from within the tradition that contradicted what was being practiced by Muslims who went a step too far.|
“I started studying theology on September 11, 2001,” van Klaveren said when asked about the roots of his Islamophobia. He pointed to acts of terror committed in the West and his Protestant upbringing as key influencers in his early life. A major shift in his world view came when he separated modern Islamist extremism from the historical Islam he read about.
He was researching for his book that originally aimed to criticise Islam. In the writing process he “discovered many Islamic sources from within the tradition that contradicted what was being practiced by Muslims who went a step too far,” For him, Islam became “something beautiful”.
His book has now been published under the title Apostate and addresses point by point the issues non-Muslims have with Islam.
Van Klaveren entered politics partly to limit the effect of Islam on Dutch society. Van Klaveren’s four year parliamentary career came to an end when he left the party in 2014. He felt Wilder crossed a line when he asked at a rally “do you want to more or less Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?”
His transformation from a far-right politician to a new member of the Muslim community has shocked many in the Netherlands. Tijs van de Brink, a famous Dutch presenter and van Klaveren’s interviewer, says numerous times how ‘difficult’ van Klaveren’s conversion was for him to process.
Van Klaveren told de Brink that he felt ashamed by what he had said but that he is glad he represented the Party for Freedom as it led him to where he is now.
When asked if he will convert to Hinduism in five years, van Klaveren said with ease, “No, this is the end for me.”