Dutch Journalist Convicted in Absentia by Egyptian Court

June 23, 2014

An Egyptian court has found a Dutch journalist guilty of assisting the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and sentenced her to 10 years in jail, in absentia. The journalist left Cairo in February following the intervention of the Dutch Embassy. The Netherlands does not have an extradition treaty with Egypt.

Rena Netjes is one of a group of journalists on trial for supporting the now banned group and spreading false news. Three other journalists for Al Jazeera were sentenced to 7 years in jail for the same offences. They had spent the past six months in a Cairo jail.

Netjes had contact with Al Jazeera staff as part of her job working for Dutch media outlets. Egyptian authorities say the broadcaster supports the Muslim Brotherhood.

Update: Lack of Clarity in Supposed Saudi Arabian Boycott of the Netherlands

June 19, 2014

Although media in Saudi Arabia reported last month that the country would instigate a trade boycott against the Netherlands, a definite answer from the country has not yet been obtained.

The potential boycott pertained to the anti-Islam sticker Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders posted on his office door.

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans said that a senior civil servant’s visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of May had failed to produce clarity: “Neither during the visit nor in the weeks afterwards has any confirmation been sent that the Saudi government intends to take measures.”

Dutch Government Comments on Nationals Associating with ISIS

June 16, 2014

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans has said in a briefing to parliament that ‘many’ Dutch nationals have joined with ISIS, an Islamist group with actions in Iraq and Syria.  He adds that ‘various measures’ are being taken to prevent Dutch nationals from joining the group. For instance, the national secret service (AIVD) has given to Turkey the names of over 100 young men and women they believe may be planning to travel to Syria, and Turkey has agreed to deport them if spotted.

Also with respect to individuals travelling to Syria to join conflict, Dutch Education Minister Jet Bussemaker said that students who do so will lose their financing, and has already happened in some cases.

Valls: The Republic stands alongside Muslims

June 26, 2014

Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated, “It’s up to Muslims themselves to act, to refuse fundamentalism and radicalism, which use religion to spread hate and terror. And in this fight—and I want to acknowledge the beautiful text published by the French Council of the Muslim Faith, the Republic will always be on their side.”

His support was voiced at the exposition “Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca” presented at the Arab World Institute in Paris. Valls presented in front of several prominent Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

“This is a nation that recognizes the greatness and diversity of Islam,” said Valls. “This is a nation that also says that Islam has its place in France, because Islam is a religion of tolerance, of respect, a religion of light and of the future, miles away from those who twist and corrupt its message,” he stated.

The Prime Minister affirmed that “as in each year,” he would have the opportunity to meet Muslims at the meal breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan.

He promised to send Muslims “A message of confidence; a message which underscores that France is a land of freedom that respects all beliefs, and one that considers the fact that Islam is the second largest religion as an opportunity for France.”

Baby Loup: The Court of Appeals Confirms the Dismissal of the Veiled Employee

June 25, 2014

Fatima Afif, the Muslim employee who wore a headscarf to the Baby Loup crèche in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, has lost her fight in the French courts. On Wednesday, June 25 the court delivered an official and final ruling on the case, which has been an ongoing legal battle for four years. According to Le Monde the dismissal was “indeed well justified.”

The court ruled that according to labor law, a private enterprise, or an association as in the case of the Baby Loup crèche, can “limit an employee’s freedom to display religious beliefs,” in certain justifiable cases. Baby Loup had its own set of internal rules, which state, “The principle of the freedom of conscience and of religion of each of its personnel cannot interfere with the principle of secularism and of neutrality that applies to the performance of its activities.”

Afif’s lawyer argued that “the Court of Appeals did not solve the question of Islam through the veil in France, it solved the problem of the Baby Loup crèche.” In contrast, Baby Loup’s lawyer Patrice Spinosi stated that the outcome represented “a big decision” that will have lasting effects on other organizations.