This week five men were sentenced up to four years in prison for firebombing a mosque with terrorist intent. In February of this year, the men who claimed to be members of the Dutch Self Defense Army, threw molotov cocktails at a mosque when 30 people were inside, including children.
Four men were given a four year sentence (including one suspended) and a fifth man received two years suspended sentence.
According to the court:
By carrying out their right-wing extremism and racist ideas in this way they brought a great deal of fear to especially the mosque goers in Enschede and the Dutch Muslim community in general.
The defendants lawyer argued it was not a act of terrorism given the clumsy way of carrying out. Furthermore, no one was injured the people in the mosque could extinguish the fire quickly.
There are signals that violence against mosques and Muslims not only is increasing in the Netherlands, but is also not taken very seriously. This year alone at least 20 mosques received threatening letters and a pig’s head was left in front of a mosque in several places. In many cases, as research by Ineke van der Valk shows, police and politicians downplay and depoliticize violence and attacks on mosques as cases of vandalism instead of political violence.
The sentences are high compared to other cases of attacks on mosques but not very if we compare to other terrorism cases. If terrorism is proven sentences for ‘normal’ crimes can be increased with one third. In the past sentences against terrorism have been delivered up to 8 years (in cases where there was no violent act yet) and one life long sentence. Nevertheless, this trial is an important one because this is the first time right wing extremist violence is prosecuted and sentenced as a case of terrorism. The five men stay incarcerated at the high security prison the South.