NETHERLANDS: Controversial poster campaign featuring a Jewish man kissing a Muslim woman causes outrage, threats, and vandalism from Muslim community

The ‘Anti-(Muslim) Forced Marriage’ campaign, created by a Muslim woman, encouraging free choice of romantic partners triggers fierce backlash from Muslim community. Incensed by the headline “In The Netherlands we choose our own partner,” Muslim males are tearing the posters down.

Times of Israel  This campaign has triggered acrimonious debate, charges of racism, acts of vandalism and even threats by Muslims who found it offensive. To some of the detractors, the poster campaign was a provocation designed to upset the sensibilities of Dutch Muslims. But to campaign supporters — including some prominent members of the Dutch Jewish community — it was an important statement about the need to counter radicalism and coercion in the Netherlands’ growing Muslim minority.

Initiated by a Muslim activist for women’s rights, Shirin Musa, the posters are part of a municipal initiative in support of women, mostly Muslim, who face abuse and honor killing if they choose spouses their communities disapprove of. Bearing the slogan “In the Netherlands, you choose your own partner,” the posters were placed in bus stops and on signposts across Rotterdam.

The campaign features four couples locking lips against a background featuring the port city’s iconic Erasmus Bridge: the Jewish-Muslim couple; a Muslim woman kissing a blond man; two women, one in a South Asian dress, and a black man with a woman who appears to be of South Asian descent.

But the posters only triggered a strong backlash among Muslims, including within Asscher’s own party. One of Labour’s representatives on the Rotterdam City Council, Fatima Talbi, wrote in an op-ed that she was “furious” about the campaign, which she said treats Muslims as though they are “backward” by turning the matter of forced marriage into “an integration issue.”

Tunahan Kuzu, a lawmaker in the Dutch parliament for the radical pro-Islam, pro-immigration party Denk, called the campaign “provocative, discriminating and patronizing.” Several of the posters were vandalized, hateful rhetoric was directed at their supporters on social media and activists distributing campaign fliers reported threats of violence by Muslims. Police assigned officers to watch over some of the activists following several incidents.

One man told an activist from Musa’s Femme for Freedom organization: “I’m going to thump you on your f***ing head if you give me this flier,” Tanya Hoogwerf, a Rotterdam councilwoman, told the PowNed television channel last month. Two men filmed themselves destroying a poster that was placed on a bus shelter.

In the video below, two men with an unmistakably Turkish or Moroccan Dutch accent, say the following while they tear down one of the posters:

“We’ve come to finish our shit. Look at this motherfuckers. [inaudible]. Choose your own freedom they say, pull that poster down. Motherfuckers. Here, this is what happens.”