A former anti-Muslim campaigner and MP for a conservative Dutch political party has converted to Islam.
Joram van Klaveren spent four years representing Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom in the Dutch Parliament but left in 2014 after his former boss ranted against Moroccans.
Mr van Klaveren called for bans on the burqa and Dutch mosques.
His conversion was compared with that of Arnoud van Doorn, another former party member, who became a Muslim in 2012.
In late 2014, Mr van Klaveren set up a rival conservative political party with allies called For the Netherlands.
It folded in 2017 after failing to win a seat at the general elections, while the party also suffered from financial problems.
Mr van Klaveren converted on October 26 last year, while he was researching an anti-Islam book.
He said that halfway through the project he changed his beliefs.
“I thought, ‘if everything I have written so far is correct – if I believe all that – then I am de facto a Muslim’,” he said.
“In previous years I developed a great aversion to Islam. If you then have to conclude that you are not right, that is not fun.
“But as a God-seeker I always felt a certain unrest and that gradually disappeared.
“It felt a bit like coming home, in a religious sense.”
Mr van Klaveren has been forced to reject claims that his conversion was a ploy to boost the sales of his book Apostate: From Christianity to Islam in the Time of Secular Terror.
His wife, who used to disagree with his Islamophobic views, has been supportive, but his mother is “not very happy with it”.
Mr van Klaveren also expects to receive criticism from the local media.
He has not changed his name and is still learning the Quran from a book meant for children aged 10.
Mr van Klaveren said that he would not push his religion on his children and said that British theologian Abdal Hakim Murad, also a convert, was particularly supportive.
“If this really isn’t a PR stunt to promote his book, then it really is an extraordinary choice for somebody who had a lot to say about the Islam,” said his former party’s co-founder Jan Roos.
“But we have religious freedom in the Netherlands. He can worship whoever he wants.”