Following a recent failed Qur’ān burning attempt by the leader of the Dutch branch of the extreme group known as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West or PEGIDA, Muslims in the Netherlands have collaborated on an excellent response that has led to hundreds of copies of the Qur’ān being distributed.  
In a Monday joint press release, the two organisations behind the opportune campaign, Daliel and Waaromislam, expressed the importance of reading as opposed to burning, in addition to encouraging the acceptance of Islam and “fostering harmonious coexistence in daily life”. 
While discussing the arguably courageous endeavour to distribute copies of the Qur’ān in the very same city that the PEGIDA leader, Edwin Wagensveld, recently tried to stir up division, the organisations state,
“Wagensveld’s actions, which not only push the limits of freedom of speech but also actively seek to insult and harm Dutch Muslims, have prompted a collective effort to promote understanding and unity.
“The provocative act, seen as an attempt to deepen polarisation within Dutch society, has been met with a resolute stance by Waaromislam, in collaboration with Daliel and their supporters.” 
Extreme hatred delivered embarrassing blow yet again
If it were not sufficient that Waaromislam and Daliel took steps to set up stalls to simply engage in meaningful dialogue about Islam with members of the public, the partnership has also resulted in at least ten people reverting to Islam. 
As the press release notes,
“The first distribution, which took place last Sunday (January 21), resulted in ten conversions to Islam, the distribution of a thousand Qur’āns, and over a hundred meaningful conversations.
“Social media responses indicate that the message has reached PEGIDA, sparking curiosity about their next actions.” 
Responding to anti-Muslim threat with measured response
In addition to the heightened interest in Islam and the collaborative response to the hate-filled actions of PEGIDA, there has been a sea-change in the political environment in the Netherlands.
Indeed, with the late November 2023 general election resulting in the rightwing PVV — led by veteran Islamophobe Geert Wilders — receiving the most votes and continuing to engage in tedious coalition talks, some members of society may have taken this rightwing lurch as a signal to be more brazen in Islamophobic rhetoric and actions. 
However, in his desperation to gather enough parliamentary support to form a government, Wilders has apparently dropped a number of proposed anti-Muslim policies including one that would have banned all “expressions of Islam”. If enacted, this would effectively ban the Qur’ān in the Netherlands. 
Continued commitment in the face of further desecration
Such incidents as the one carried out by Edwin Wagensveld in the Netherlands and others in countries such as Sweden and Denmark by the likes of Rasmus Paludan and his Stram Kurs political party are unlikely to cease anytime soon. 
In anticipation of repeat incidents by these extreme individuals and groups, Daliel and Waaromislam have announced a commitment to responding in an equal fashion in future.
“For every such attempt, Waaromislam and Daliel have committed to distributing a thousand Qur’āns.
“This symbolic gesture serves as a reminder that Dutch identity encompasses diversity, including Islam as a Dutch religion.” 
In ending the press release, the organisations reiterate their resoluteness and confidence in handling such periods of “deep disagreements” by the will of Allah.
“Waaromislam and Daliel are steadfast in their determination to promote understanding, especially in times of deep disagreements, fostering harmonious coexistence in daily life.
“The initiative sends a strong message that attempts to insult the Qur’ān will only lead to an increased presence of the holy book in the Netherlands.
“The organisations invite dialogue and aim to bridge divides, demonstrating that diverse beliefs can coexist without resorting to hatred, violence, or the suppression of religious freedom.” 
In the aftermath of this deeply inappropriate act by PEGIDA in Arnhem, an appropriate response was always going to be crucial.
It is important to note that freedom of speech was abused, and it was absurd that the municipality permitted this desecration in the first place, with Wagensveld even being shielded by the police. Moreover, it is appalling that someone attempting to insult Islam and the Qur’ān receives a police escort, while those standing up for its honour are routinely apprehended and labelled as troublemakers.
Nevertheless, amidst this provocation, Muslims demonstrated an impressive act of love for the Qur’ān, even being willing to jeopardise their personal safety. But it can truly be said that in successfully responding to this latest Qur’ān burning incident, we reclaimed the Qur’ān; alhamdulillāh!
The initiative by Waaromislam and Daliel has really put groups like PEGIDA in a checkmate position. Historically, when Islam is under attack, interest tends to rise, resulting in conversions. Likewise, this joint campaign has proven how powerful of an example love for the Qur’ān and effective dialogue are, in contrast to provocation and violence.
As Muslims, we are determined to promote understanding, even in times of profound differences, ultimately striving for peaceful coexistence in our day-to-day lives. Therefore, let it be known in the Netherlands that this is our response. Insulting the Qur’ān in public will only strengthen its presence in the country. 1 against 1,000!
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