GENEVA – A majority of Swiss people would support a Muslim woman’s right to wear a headscarf at her workplace, according to an opinion poll on the integration of Islam in Switzerland published on Sunday. Fifty-three percent of those polled said they felt a recent move by a supermarket chain to expressly allow women in public sales jobs to wear headscarves was right, against 36 percent who opposed the idea, the newspaper Sonntagsblick said.
Islamic preachers and other spiritual leaders from abroad could soon have to take courses to help them integrate better into Swiss society. The government proposal comes at a time of growing public debate about the role of Muslims in a multicultural society such as Switzerland’s. The justice ministry is planning to submit the plan to the cabinet within the next few weeks, according to the Federal Office of Immigration, Integration and Emigration (IMES).
AMSTERDAM – The Dutch parliament has rejected a bid to scrap the prohibition on blasphemy. The motion was drawn up by MP Lousewies van der Laan of the small government party D66 last week. The move was a response to an announcement by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner that he planned to strengthen the blasphemy law. Initially Van der Laan’s motion seemed to have majority support. Only Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s Christian Democrats and two small religious parties opposed it.
Many Dutch Decision-Makers Wondering Whether Reactions, Particularly Criticism Of Muslims, Did Not Go Too Far. By Isabelle Wesselingh Reeling from the slaying of a controversial filmmaker by a suspected Islamic extremist and a resulting backlash against Muslim institutions, the traditionally tolerant Dutch are mulling the limits of freedom of expression. “It is important today that we have a debate on freedom of expression: What are its limits, what is the meaning of tolerance, to what degree can you provoke someone and in this context I think it is important to look at what is being done abroad,” Foreign Minister Ben Bot told foreign correspondents here Monday.
MARSEILLE, France (AFP) – In a major broadside, President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin rejected a senior government minister’s idea of using state funds to build mosques and train Islamic religious leaders. Chirac obliquely accused his arch rival – Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to seek his job in the 2007 presidential election – of trying to “open up a new and pointless debate in France on topics that enjoy consensus.” Raffarin said for the government to get mixed up in religion in any way would undermine the very foundations of the French republic, which is based on a strict separation of church and state.
Ian Traynor in UDEN, the Netherlands Kneeling in the sodden, charred remains of the primary school, Hari Boukameans took a Stanley knife to a melted computer. He twisted and he gouged – trying to recover the hard drive, hoping to salvage a little bit of the precious Dutch culture of live and let live from the flames of hatred that consumed his workplace. The Moroccan gave up. He slumped in the smelly, black mass of ashes. “This is really evil,” he groaned. Spray painting a white cross and White Power slogans on to the grey brick walls of the Muslim school the previous night, Dutch racists had set the place ablaze. The fire gutted the school and traumatised this comfortable town of 40,000 in the middle of the Netherlands.
The Islamic Community of Spain (CIE) rejected that Islam be taught in schools “with an exposition similar to the classes of catholicism.” According to the accepted leader of the Muslim community, Malik Ruiz, “the most appropriate system is not to give lectures of one or two hours of Islamic religion each week, since it is not an education subject but a form of life”.
The chief of the main directorate of Religious Subjects, Mercedes Rico-Godoy, on a visit to Melilla, has spoken of the city as a “laboratory” that can be taken as a reference for the beginning of classes in Islam in the rest of Spain, an objective of the Government for 2005.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Arsonists and vandals angered over the alleged Muslim-inspired slaying of a controversial Dutch filmmaker have conducted a series of attacks on Islamic targets, including attempts to burn down two mosques, Dutch media reported Sunday.
PARIS – Domenique de Villepin proposed Sunday the creation of a “Foundation for Muslim works” to allow the financing of the places of Muslim worship in France, “within the framework of the law of 1905”.