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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

Why the Dutch Turned Against Immigrants

Anti-Islamic nationalists, the leftist elite and the immigrants live in different versions of reality.
IJburg had a village feel. Then the immigrants started moving in.

IJburg had a village feel. Then the immigrants started moving in.

Photographer: Christian Richters/UIG via Getty Images

Soon after she moved into her new neighborhood, IJburg, on the eastern outskirts of Amsterdam, in 2005, Xandra Lammers started a blog about it. IJburg is a curious place, an architectural wonder, built in the middle of a lake on reclaimed land and partly on water. She still keeps the blog alive, but curiosity has given way to frustration: It's all about the unpleasantness of living next to Muslim immigrants.

"I used to vote Labor," Lammers told me. "I was quite politically correct. But now I no longer am." She is a determined supporter of Geert Wilders and his anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party, PVV, the front-runner in the Netherlands' March 2017 election. She is also a character in a book by nationalist writer Joost Niemoeller, called "Angry," published this month and already on the bestseller list. The anger fueling the Wilders campaign is real and tangible in the Netherlands, but -- like the anger of Donald Trump's voters in the U.S. -- it's rooted in the existence of parallel realities in a society where efforts at social and cultural integration have run into major obstacles.