Fatima Yaakoub, 24 years old, born in Morocco, living in the Netherlands since she was 12, says she wants nothing more than to fit in. She works hard, cleaning offices in the early mornings, going to college during the day, taking English classes on weekends-trying to get ahead, trying to do what is expected of a good citizen in her adopted homeland. But three years ago, she began wearing a head scarf, the sign of a devout Muslim woman, and got a rapid education on how much of an outsider she remains.
An Italian court order a kindergarten to take off all crucifixes from classrooms at the request of a Muslim activist, sparking shock waves in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.
Conservative MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali says her party, the VVD, wants to see stricter legislation governing Islamic schools. The conservatives claim these schools are teaching children to discriminate against women, homosexuals and the indigenous Dutch population. She made her remarks during a parliamentary debate on a new integration bill put forward by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. Most parties support the minister’s plans, but the left-wing opposition has criticised a proposal that would make migrants pay part of the cost of their integration courses. They argue this will force many people into debt. Controversy About Islamic Schools In The Netherlands Continues Christian Democrat Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has criticised a proposal by the conservative VVD party to monitor Islamic schools. She says the proposal breaches an article in the constitution guaranteeing educational freedom. VVD member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali has called for an end to government support for certain Islamic schools. She says they promote intolerance towards homosexuals and Jews, and are opposed to equality for women. The Lower House debate on Islamic education in the Netherlands has further intensified. Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven, a Christian Democrat, has rejected a Conservative proposal to set additional requirements to such schools. The minister has not yet vetoed the motion of Conservative parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but she did say it violated article 23 of the constitution, which provides for freedom of education. The minister also opposes the Conservative’s request that all board members of Islamic schools have Dutch nationality. The other house factions also reject the motion. Although Ms. Hirsi Ali’s resolution has thrown Conservatives themselves into a commotion, the party is not withdrawing it. The house debate will continue next week.
While immigrants live largely apart from mainstream Italian society – doing manual or factory work or scraping a living peddling trinkets or vegetables on the streets – the influx of foreigners in recent years, many of them Muslim, is rapidly changing the cultural makeup of this Roman Catholic country.
All quotes below taken from rnw.nl. It probably won’t win a majority in parliament, but a bill on halting the rapid spread of Islamic schools is causing uproar here in the Netherlands.
Controversy in Italy over a local judge’s decision to order the removal of school crucifixes has died down, following intervention by higher authorities to guarantee their presence. Despite initial appearances, the matter was not a question of church-state conflict. Neither was it a simple Christian-Islam clash.