More Young Dutch Muslims Are Travelling To Mecca For the annual Hadj

With the annual Hajj starting on the 30th of August this year, the Dutch pilgrims have become increasingly younger. In the past, the Hajj was usually undertaken by elderly Muslims. Nowadays, elderly Muslims are still the main age group among Hajj pilgrims, but there has been an increase in younger Muslims fulfilling this important religious obligation. Marjo Buitelaar, a Dutch academic on contemporary Islam, has done research on the developments regarding the Hajj and also noticed this important shift in age demographics.

“The pilgrimage used to be seen mainly as a final religious obligation one had to fullfill, and ask for forgiveness of the sins you have committed. Young Muslims also feel the need for this, but because they are standing in the midst of life, they experience the Hajj and the period after differently,” Buitelaar stated. She added that young people are practicing their faith more and do not longer want to wait until they are in their sixties and seventies before fulfilling this religious obligation. In addition, she believes that not only is the individualization of religion a factor in these new developments, but ‘identity issues’ are also playing a role: as most young Dutch Muslims have a Moroccan or Turkish ethnical background, they are confronted with questions as to where they belong. Since they are not  only not fully accepted in the Netherlands, but also not in Morocco or Turkey, they appreciate the feeling of being ‘just’ a Muslim in Saudi-Arabia.

A few travel agencies can attest to the fact that more young Dutch Muslims are deciding to set out for the pilgrimage. Zaakaria Bouhkim, a 29-year-old Muslim from Amsterdam, runs a travel agency with his father. While they guide a group of 235 pilgrims to Mecca this year, Bouhkim also noticed that the pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger. He states that more than half of these pilgrims are younger than 40 years old. In addition, he claims that the ‘umrah is becoming increasingly popular among young Dutch Muslims. He believes that a lower threshold to go to Mecca is contributing to the trend. In addition, the younger Muslims with these ethnic backgrounds have more money than their parents had, which also contributes to a lower threshold. Naoufal El Ghaouty, the owner of travel agency Diwan Travel, has about 200 people going with him to Mecca each year. He confirms that the typical Dutch pilgrim is getting younger: “In the past, only ten or fifteen percent of the pilgrims were young people, now that has become between forty and fifty percent: a big difference.”

Because the Dutch Muslim pilgrims are becoming increasingly younger, the travel agencies see the need to change their offer accordingly. They offer outings for example; like crossing through the desert with squad cars. It also becomes clear that there is a strong influence of social media in how these young Dutch Muslims experience their Hajj. Muslims post ‘snaps’ on Snapchat for example, where one can temporarily share images and video’s. A young Muslim from Rotterdam, the 20-year-old Hoedayfa Flillou, also agrees that social media plays an important role in the contemporary Hajj experience of young Dutch Muslims. He claims that young Muslims have more access to actual images of the Hajj through social media, because of the ‘selfies’ young Muslims make when they are in Mecca. He also believes that the modern Mecca has become more attractive city-wise for young Muslims, with the new buildings that have been built.

Sources:
https://nos.nl/artikel/2190474-je-hoeft-niet-meer-zestig-te-zijn-om-naar-de-hajj-te-gaan.html https://fd.nl/werk-en-geld/1212837/verplicht-op-reis https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nederland/steeds-meer-jongeren-naar-mekka-ze-zijn-nieuwsgierig-geworden-door-selfies-van-anderen

Restraining Order Against Syrian-Dutch Imam Fawaz Jneid

Fawaz Jneid, a Syrian-Dutch imam who preached until 2012 in the As-Soennah mosque in The Hague, became a controversial figure after cursing Islam-critics Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh in a speech at the mosque. The years after, Fawaz was heavily criticized for being considered part of the Salafi branch in the Netherlands and for preaching an ‘intolerant message’. Recently, the imam was given a restraining order for six months in certain areas of The Hague. This is possible because of a new anti-Terror law  that makes it possible for terror-suspects to be detained longer without rock-solid evidence.

According to the Dutch security services, because Fawaz preaches an ‘intolerant’ message in a neighborhood prone to radicalization, he is a potential safety danger. The security services received support from Paula Krikke, the mayor of The Hague, who in addition requested the restraining order against Jneid. She stated: “(…) Together with many citizens of The Hague, I work hard to make living in the city as free and safe as possible for everyone. A stage for Fawaz Jneid and his extremist opinions is at odds with this. Because of that, we try to do everything to prevent him from getting a foothold in this city.”

Not only did Fawaz Jneid himself appealed against the sentence, a few Dutch Muslim organizations and (Salafi) Muslims have protested against the restraining order. Fawaz called the restraining order ‘propaganda against Islam’ and argues that he has worked with the security services to prevent young people from radicalization. The organizations and individuals that protested Fawaz’s sentence, have called the restraining order an “illegitimate form of oppression” and targeting Fawaz in particular a ‘witch hunt’.  The sentence is considered illegal by the protesters, because Fawaz was never convicted of sedition or hate-speech. They also believe – like Fawaz – that in reality, the sentence is a concealed anti-Islam measure. In a pamphlet circulating on the Internet, an anonymous writer stated: “We regret to note that this is a case of (…) a selective anti-Islam measure that does not only affect imam Fawaz, but also the Dutch Muslim in his rights and freedoms.”

Sources:
https://www.ad.nl/den-haag/imam-fawaz-krijgt-gebiedsverbod-vanwege-haatpreken~ad986312/ https://www.ad.nl/den-haag/fawaz-naar-rechter-om-gebiedsverbod-dit-is-propaganda-ik-ben-geen-terrorist~a0262b8e/ https://www.ad.nl/den-haag/salafisten-schieten-haatimam-te-hulp~ad9c136a/

Thoughts on Dutch elections: DENK

While the racist party of Geert Wilders got 13 percent, in total 1,269,374 votes with 20 deputies, the DENK Movement received a total of 216,111 votes that is 2.1 percent of the votes with 3 MPs. Â

Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk, both of Turkish origin, who separated from PvdA (labour Party) due to differences of opinion two years ago, showed a great success in the March 15 elections. They entered the parliament with 3 MPs. After the Wilders’ party, DENK is the second only example that became a chosen Political Party in the Dutch Parliament after such a separation. DENK became the voice of the hopeless, the oppressed, the rejected and the silent. DENK made a smashing success with the slogan ‘The Netherlands belongs to all of us’. But the real hard work starts after today. DENK must now take on the role of the masses on its shoulders and act upon it. Of course, the electorate should not have big expectations. Because a political movement will take time to institutionalize.

I would like to wish success to all the Dutch Assembly, to Europe, for the sake of Dutch-Turkish relations and all of humanity.

Veyis Gungor

March 21, 2017

Historical Support for DENK-Party in the Netherlands

The General Elections on 15 March 2017 will witness to many firsts from different perspectives. A new party such as DENK must have public support from 20 constituent areas and 580 signatures. DENK received three times this amount. A new party must also comply with financial aptitude, meaning that it can only qualify when the party can present financial guarantees.

Political observers point out that DENK is a necessity in the Netherlands, especially in the ever-extreme right-wing politics and in the atmosphere of increasing xenophobia. Moreover, DENK’s participation in the first elections, with such a serious support from the constituents, is a strong message to the political arena. DENK will also be able to benefit from the broadcast that is given to major political parties in national television, as it competes in the whole electoral regions.

The Hague Mosque Received a Threat Letter: A Truck Might Strike

The As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague received a threat letter together with a toy truck.

Between 2005 and 2015, 175 mosques were target of  violence or aggression in the Netherlands.The city of The  Hague drew up a special Manual with tips for a safer environment for mosques. The Netherlands does not have exact numbers of islamophobic incidents unless these are reported as a criminal offense.

Turkish Referendum : The diaspora said “yes” to Erdogan

The 16 April 2017, a constitutional referendum in Turkey increased President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers. According to the Turkish press agency Anadolu and the news website Ouest France, the Turkish diaspora living in Europe has largely supported Erdogan in their vote.

Despite a context of tension between the Turkish President and European governments, the level of support of Erdogan is undeniable among Turkish communities in Europe. Especially in the countries where the largest communities live. The vote in favor of Erdogan reached 63 % in Germany, 77 % in Belgium, 73% in Austria, 70% in the Netherlands, 65% in France.

According to Kareem Shaheen, writing for the Guardian: “The result of the referendum sets the stage for a transformation of the upper echelons of the state and changing the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, arguably the most important development in the country’s history since it was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Republic”. (April, 16)

 

Source :

http://www.ouest-france.fr/monde/turquie/comment-la-diaspora-turque-en-europe-t-elle-vote-au-referendum-4938460

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/16/erdogan-claims-victory-in-turkish-constitutional-referendum

Dutch security measures after mosque attack Quebec

Four big mosques in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Utrecht have decided to temporarily close the doors during communal prayer moments in order to prevent ill-intending people to enter.

The mosques have decided to implement this safety measure because they are severly concerned about the safety of visitors after the attack on a mosque in Quebec. A spokesperson speaks of a rigorous measure, because the houses of worship say to want to be open to everyone.

The Board of Morrocan Mosques Netherlands (Raad van Marokkaanse Moskeeën Nederland) has also expressed its concern for the safety of Dutch moques.

DENK politician Sylvana Simons receives security after threats

Dutch-Surinam politician Sylvana Simons of the new party DENK will receive security by the Dutch security service. This is the outcome of a vast array of threats based on racist motives and a recent video that featured the politician.

In the video Simons is displayed in various racist scenes, among which as a naked African aboriginal, Black Pete, and an African-American victim a lynch by the Ku Klux Klan, as was common at the end of the nineteenth century. Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has called the video “abhorrent” and “completely unacceptable”.

DENK leader Tunahan Kuzu mentioned that “visible and invisible” security measures are being taken to protect Simons, after a conversation with the Dutch National Coordinator Counter Terrorism, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and members of the DENK party.

New Dutch party DENK presents political program

The new Dutch party DENK has presented its political program for the upcoming elections in 2017. The party was established by two former Labour Party (PvdA) MP’s from Turkish descent. It was soon joined by the Dutch-Surinam Sylvanna Simons and Dutch-Moroccan Farid Azarkan, and focusses on putting on the political agenda minority issues, Islamophobia, and racism in the Netherlands.

According to DENK leader, Tunahan Kuzu, the established parties and media strengthen fear and hatred against foreigners, saying he is not surprised at the existence of fear and xenophobia amongst the Dutch public. Kuzu thinks the established parties go along with the wave of xenophobia triggered by the rhetoric of Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV).

Aside from issues pertaining to Muslims and Islamophobia DENK also wants more regard for Dutch colonial history in places such as Surinam and Indonesia. DENK in particular demands independent research on the Dutch presence in Indonesia between 1945-1949, and an official apology for the Dutch obstruction of the Moluccan wish for independence.

Dutch Parliament approves law on banning burqa

The Dutch Parliament has approved a law prohibiting women from wearing the Burqa and niqabs in public places, namely in education, public transport, hospitals, and government buildings. If women do cover their faces with the burqa or niqab they risk a fine of a maximum of 400 Euro’s. The ban is not applied on wearing them in the streets.

A majority of Dutch political parties supported the law drift of Minister Ronals Plasterk of Internal Affairs (Labour Party), with the exception of the Green Party (Groenlinks), the Social Liberal Party (D66), and the new party DENK, which enjoys support of Muslims and other Dutch minorities.