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5 Feb, 2019 11:40

From critic to convert: Former anti-Muslim Dutch politician embraces Islam

From critic to convert: Former anti-Muslim Dutch politician embraces Islam

A former Dutch politician from Geert Wilders’ right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) has announced his unexpected conversion to Islam. Joram Van Klaveren’s ‘Road to Mecca’ moment occurred while researching a book critical of the faith.

Van Klaveren had been a staunch critic of Islam and was elected to Parliament in 2010, as part of the groundswell of support for Wilder’s anti-Muslim rhetoric which saw the PVV become the third-largest party in the Netherlands.

During his stint in politics, Van Klaveren became known for his inflammatory anti-Islam statements. He had previously called Islam “a lie,” its holy book the Koran “poison” and the prophet Muhammad “a crook.”

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He quit the PVV in 2014 after disagreeing with Wilders asking supporters at a campaign rally if they wanted “fewer” or “more” Moroccans in the country (they answered “fewer!”). Van Klaveren failed to get re-elected in 2017 after setting up his own conservative party.

Without politicking to occupy his time, the firebrand turned towards writing a critical book on Islam. However, while in the middle of his research Van Klaveren had to reassess and rewrite the book, eventually converting to the faith in October and announcing the news on Monday.

“During that writing I encountered more and more things that shook my vision of Islam,” he told a Dutch radio program.

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However, his “biggest obstacle” was eliminating his negative perceptions of Mohammad. “There are a lot of lies spread out about that man,” he said adding that it was only after realising this that “I could say that I was a Muslim.”

Having now disavowed his former views on Islam as “simply wrong,” Van Klaveren took aim at his former party’s policy stating that everything “wrong had to be linked to Islam in one way or another.”

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Commenting on Van Klaveren’s conversion was another former PVV official and Islam convert, Arnoud Van Doorn. Writing on Twitter he said: “[I] never thought that the PVV would become a breeding ground for converts.”

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