Senate chair cuts off discussion about Asylum Minister's controversial past statements

THE HAGUE - A debate in the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, was cut short by the chair when the topic of controversial past statements made by Asylum and Migration Minister Marjolein Faber were brought up by Senator Farah Karimi. The Senate was discussing a new law that would make it easier to reject a foreign person's residency application if they have a serious criminal history. 

The GroenLinks-PvdA politician was given the floor, and used her time to bring up Faber's past stances. Prior to becoming a minister last week, the PVV politician was simultaneously a senator and provincial council member for nearly 15 years. Her position changed after the PVV formed a ruling coalition with the VVD, BBB and NSC. 

Senate Chair Jan Anthonie Bruijn from the VVD intervened and urged her to stop. The debate should be about that law and not about the personal background of the minister, Bruijn argued. He stepped in after complaints were raised by the BBB, PVV and Ja21. 

The amendment concerns powers for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The department is becoming part of Faber's portfolio as minister. Therefore, the personal background of the minister does matter, Karimi reasoned. "I don't understand why I'm being silenced here," the senator responded indignantly. 

"The question is whether someone who has systematically and continuously used racist ideas and dehumanizing language for years can have this law implemented in a fair manner," the Eerste Kamer member said. Faber has spent "her entire political career" on "belittling, dehumanizing and hating Muslims, asylum seekers, refugees and Dutch people with a migration background," said Karimi. 

Faber's appointment was discussed intensely in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Parliament, also because of statements she made in the past. This mainly concerned her belief in the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, an extreme-right notion that migrants are being sent to Western nations to change the composition of their populations. The theory is rooted in white nationalism, and as a senator, Faber expressed support for the theory, and used terms like "repopulate" and "replacement" when discussing issues related to asylum and immigration. 

Following the uproar, Faber distanced herself from her statements during confirmation hearings in the Tweede Kamer. Simultaneously, she expressed concern for immigrants who bring their own traditions and displace Dutch traditions and values. She was criticized by opposition parliamentarians, and some coalition members, who alleged she was just dressing up her beliefs with new phrases.