NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 19:43
The racist texts that were projected on the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam during the turn of the year generated a lot of controversy last week. The Public Prosecution Service is conducting a criminal investigation into discrimination, but no arrests have yet been made.
The group behind the racist texts on the Erasmus Bridge makes little effort on its own Telegram channel to disguise the extremist ideology behind slogans such as “White Lives Matter”, “Zwarte Piet did nothing wrong” and “happy white 2023”. The NOS watched in the channel in recent days.
In a manifesto, the group writes to strive for a country where at least 99 percent of the inhabitants are “white”. The people to whom this does not apply may stay temporarily if it is “for the benefit of the Whites”, such as tourists. They don’t have a chance at citizenship anyway, the group believes.
The Dutch White Lives Matter extremists are not isolated, and form a “daughter group” of an international group. The Dutch manifesto is largely a translation of the English manifesto from that group.
The groups are not very large in size: the Dutch channel has more than 1300 members, almost half of whom joined after the projections on the Erasmus Bridge. The global version has less than 16,000 members.
“These kinds of groups believe in a threat to the so-called white race, and feel they have to defend themselves against it,” says Willemijn Kadijk, researcher into extremism. That is the difference between Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter, she says. “Black Lives Matter emerged as an emancipation movement, while White Lives Matter comes from the extreme right. It has an inseparable image of the enemy.”
Both the global and the Dutch group aim to normalize racism. By spreading racist messages, proclaiming the so-called superiority of the “white race”, a “racial awareness” must be awakened.
All this must be done “in a legal and peaceful manner”, they write in their manifesto. “But you can’t get a country with only white people without violating other people’s rights,” says researcher Kadijk.
This is a concrete rot that can eventually cause problems.
Willemijn Kadijk, researcher into extremism
The actions themselves are non-violent, and initially focus on sticking stickers or hanging a banner above the highway. Sometimes there are small demonstrations. Since April 2021, the group has regularly held such actions. Images of it are shared in the group, with the members making sure that they are not recognizable in the picture.
“Peaceful actions are of course always better than violence, but this kind of message is a concrete rot that can eventually cause problems,” says Kadijk. “They are trying to form a group in society that is large enough to eventually carry out their racist views.”
Initially, the actions did not receive much attention. That changes around the time of the municipal elections in March last year. In Maarn, Rotterdam and Landgraaf, among others, election posters are plastered with stickers and texts such as “traitor”. The action seems to come from the group in question and causes municipal commotion in several places.
The really big blow comes when one of the members of the group manages to find a professional beamer. The device of the Lasercube brand – range: approximately 200 meters, cost: 1800 euros – is suitable for the kind of laser shows you see at music festivals.
With that beamer they probably managed to project seven different texts on the Erasmus Bridge. Although the sentences “White Lives Matter” and “Zwarte Piet did nothing wrong” initially received the most attention, another sentence used is the most telling. It is the main rallying cry in pro-white, far-right circles, originally emanating from an American terrorist group.
In any case, an important “short-term goal” of the group seems to have been achieved: to spread the “pro-White message” to as many people as possible. Not only did one and a half million viewers see the messages during the countdown on RTL 4, the media also reported frequently about White Lives Matter and its message last week.
With which the until recently marginal group achieves exactly what it wants. “It’s a lose-lose scenario,” says Kadijk. If the media does not pay attention to the statements, people can still come into contact with them, while media attention also leads to texts being disseminated further. “It remains a risk. I think it is important that the media report responsibly, with interpretation and without links to the organizations in question.”
The NOS approached an administrator and an active user of the group in question, but there was no substantive response. However, the NOS was banned from both the Dutch and the global channel.
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