Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs Karien van Gennip said it was regrettable that the Muslim community and places of worship were secretly investigated.

It was determined that the secret research on the Muslim community, which emerged in the Netherlands in 2021, was not limited to municipalities.

Van Gennip, the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, announced in a letter to the House of Representatives that his ministry also conducted a secret investigation into mosques and the Muslim community in the country.

Karien van Gennip reported that he found that the units of his ministry were "quietly investigating individuals, organizations and networks within the Muslim communities in the Netherlands".

According to the Dutch minister, the secret investigation, which lasted until 2019, mostly targeted Salafists.

Stating that the method of investigation was "not transparent", van Gennip did not provide information on exactly how it was carried out.

According to van Gennip, the ministry's investigation into Muslims in the Netherlands and the mosques where personal data was processed had no legal basis.

Emphasizing that privacy-sensitive data such as "religious beliefs, behaviors or expressions" were recorded without the consent of these people, Minister van Gennip said, "I deeply regret this and draw lessons for the future."

Two years ago, the Dutch newspaper NRC revealed that 10 municipalities in the country were secretly investigating mosques and the Muslim community.

The newspaper documented that Dutch municipalities had contracted a company called NTA to conduct secret investigations into "radical tendencies that could pose a danger to society".

'Data collected will be destroyed'

It was stated that the municipalities conducted a secret investigation on the advice of the National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism and Security (NCTV).

The revelation of the secret investigation caused an intense reaction among Muslims in the Netherlands.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor initiated a new process, including meetings with the Muslim community, in order to restore trust between the Muslim community and the government.

In a letter written as part of this process, Minister van Gennip stated that the government itself is now encouraging discrimination against Muslims.

The Dutch minister emphasized that the government has "unintentionally contributed to the stigmatization of large groups of Muslims through the secret investigation."

Van Gennip, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs, said that in order to combat discrimination against Muslims, this phenomenon should be given more attention and re-examined.

According to van Gennip, personal data collected as a result of the secret investigation will be destroyed as of April 1, 2024.

The government wants anyone who wants to find out whether they have been subjected to an undercover investigation to contact the ministry themselves.

However, the NRC newspaper points out that the government is acting contrary to the prosecutor's recommendation that "the government is obliged to inform citizens against whom information has been illegally collected."

The public prosecutor's office had recommended that Van Gennip personally inform all citizens against whom information was illegally collected, emphasizing that the government was obliged to do so.