On Tuesday last week, Yasmina Haifi, an official at the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands, tweeted: "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It is a preconceived plan of Zionists who want to deliberately make Islam look bad."
For the past ten years, Ms. Haifi has been a senior staff member at the human resources department of the Ministry of Security and Justice. For the past two years she has also worked as a project leader at two of the Ministry's subsidiaries, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism and the National Cyber Security Center.
The outcry from the general public that followed her remarks initially did little to make her take back her words. The next day, however, she deleted the tweet, saying: "Realise the political sensitivity in relation to my work. This was never my intention." The same day, Haifi told national broadcast Radio 1 that she had no idea her comments would cause such an upheaval. "I assumed I was living in a democratic country," she said. "Apparently freedom of speech in the Netherlands applies to particular groups and not to others."
Haifi said she had based the information on "multiple sources from the internet." These consisted of a supposed statement by Edward Snowden, that the Mossad and the U.S. created ISIS. A simple background search would have shown this to be a firmly debunked hoax which was created by Iranian authorities. Even Snowden himself vehemently denies ever having said anything about ISIS.
Nevertheless, when confronted by journalists with the true nature of the spurious Snowden report, Haifi persisted and maintained that there was ample evidence to prove that the link between ISIS and Zionists did exist.
Haifi was suspended on Wednesday. "She will not be coming back to this job. Never," Dutch Security and Justice Minister Opstelten said on Friday, adding he was shocked by the content of the tweet. 'What someone's personal opinion is, is not my business," the minister told Dutch media. "It is about what you make public when you are a civil servant." Opstelten said that, "the ministry is looking into other measures."
No firm statement, however, was made that Haifi would be excluded from all government positions. Vice Premier Asscher (from Haifi's own Labor Party) said: "When I heard it, it made me sick to my stomach." Asscher called the conspiracy theory "classically anti-Semitic" and "extremely shocking." He added that "the stupidity of the comment was immeasurable." Prime Minister Mark Rutte called her remarks "asinine".
The truly shocking part of this story is not that Ms. Haifi faithfully regurgitates all too familiar Islamist anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, but that someone with such radical, conspiratorial and anti-Semitic views can be employed by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism. Something is evidently seriously wrong there with the screening of employees. There is widespread concern that many others with equally radical views were employed there and elsewhere in the security apparatus.
The defiant and self-assured tone of Haifi suggests that she was in no way apprehensive about the backlash from her words and the effect that could have on her career, and that she felt comfortable in her decision to utter them.
What is worrisome is what remarks such as those reveal about the social and professional climate at the Ministry. It is hard to believe that Haifi's conspiratorial and anti-Semitic views were not to some degree common knowledge among her co-workers, and possibly shared by many.
In addition to her career within the executive, Haifi is also a prominent member of the Labor Party. She was a member of the city council of The Hague from 1994 to 1998, and since 2011 has served as a talent recruiter and talent coach for the party's branch at The Hague. The city, which is also the seat of government in the Netherlands, has the country's most sizeable population of immigrants from Islamic countries; and Haifi functioned as one of its most vocal representatives. It is not clear how many people of a similar mindset she recruited into the Dutch Labor Party.
As co-founder of the action committee "Herstel het Vertrouwen" ["Restore Trust"] against "ethnic profiling" by the police in The Hague, Haifi enjoys sizeable backing from the Islamic immigrant community there: within a matter of days 5,600 people "liked" a Facebook page supporting Haifi. Not surprisingly, this page too is filled with conspiratorial and anti-Semitic views while at the same time bemoaning the unfair and discriminatory treatment meted out to Haifi for speaking "the truth."
Haifi's comments come at a time when widespread anti-Semitism among Muslims has become painfully visible. In the past months in The Hague, three pro-Gaza rallies have taken place, all of which have featuring ISIS flags, along with signs in Arabic calling to "Kill all Jews," and a quote from the hadith [the acts and sayings of Muhammad] that, "There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." The police were remarkably reluctant to arrest the protesters.
Despite the discriminatory and conspiratorial nature of Haifi's statements, the leadership of the Labor party, which has always presented itself as the champion of the victims of discrimination, has not ousted or suspended her. They have only announced they will "talk with Ms. Haifi" about her tweet.
The reluctance thoroughly to screen Muslim security officials, the reluctance of the Dutch authorities to see the genocidal terrorist group ISIS for what it is, and the reluctance to fire Ms. Haifi from all her government and party positions, all illustrate how the charge of "Islamophobia" is being used as a political weapon -- to silence people so that any opposition will be neutralized before it can even start.
Dr. Evelyn Markus, who emigrated from the Netherlands to the United States in 2006, is frequently published in newspapers throughout the Netherlands.