“Lonsdale youth” a growing threat to public order

“Lonsdale youth” – Dutch teen-agers with extreme right-wing tendencies who wear the British sportswear label as a kind of uniform – do not yet constitute an acute threat to the democratic system, but they are a growing threat to public order.

Their use of provocative symbols, attire and language leads to frequent confrontations with ethnic minority youths. Their behaviour therefore represents a potential threat to the democratic order, as such confrontations may eventually undermine social cohesion in the Netherlands.

These are the conclusions of a report by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) on Lonsdale Youth in the Netherlands. Interior Minister Johan Remkes presented the research report to the Lower House of Parliament today. The study is a follow-up to the report on Lonsdale youth published by the AIVD last May. The purpose of the follow-up was to investigate the extent to which those most closely involved concur with the earlier findings and whether tendencies within various Lonsdale groups constitute a threat to the democratic order.

The first AIVD study suggested that most Lonsdale youth are not adherents of extreme right-wing ideologies, but that xenophobia, nationalism and frustration with Dutch multiculturalism are common among them. Such feelings regularly lead to violent confrontations with ethnic minority youths, especially in smaller towns. The result is a growing public order problem.

The fact that these teen-agers flaunt extreme right-wing symbols, wear provocative clothing and use confrontational language only increases the threat to public order. Their behaviour leads to frequent clashes with ethnic minority youths, which in turn could seriously undermine social cohesion in the Netherlands. Eventually, a breakdown in social cohesion could very well threaten the Netherlands’ democratic order. According to the AIVD report, however, that is not yet the case.

There is no national Lonsdale organisation, nor do the separate groups have any kind of organisational structure. Local groups do, however, communicate with one another and even cooperate at times, but their alliances are fleeting and they lack clear leadership.

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