By a narrow majority, the Dutch parliament approved a controversial appointment of Moroccan-born Ali Eddaoudi as a Muslim chaplain to the Dutch army. A joint motive by the right-wing VVD party and the Christian Democrats was narrowly defeated, with 69 members of parliament voting yes, and 70 no. Eddouadi’s appointment as a Dutcy army’s chaplain stirred controversy because of comments Eddaoudi made earlier about the NATO mission in Afghanistan, and comments about general relationships between Christian and Muslims. Opponents to his appointment felt that Eddaoudi’s statements were so “hurtful” that they made it impossible for him to function in the Dutch army. The criticisms were not enough, as parliament approved his appointment as a Muslim army chaplain by just one vote.
The Dutch defense ministry and parliament clashed over the appointment of a Muslim imam as an army chaplain. The defense ministry appointed two imams of Turkish and Moroccan origin to serve as army chaplains, who were supposed to be sworn in on Thursday, but the swearing-in ceremony was postponed after the parliament objected the appointment of one of the men, citing his “radical” views.
One of the chaplains – Ali Eddaoudi, has had questions raised about his political views, including defending the right of Muslim neighborhood stewards to refuse to shake hands with members of the opposite sex. In a 2007 column, he criticized the Dutch mission in Afghanistan, citing the Taliban as “a proud people” that will never give up.
Because of questions raised about his views, defense minister Jack de Vries was forced to postpone the appointments – a decision is said to be made in about two weeks time. The defense ministry said that the Muslim chaplains could be sent in missions outside the Netherlands, to aid an undetermined number of Muslims serving in the Dutch army. The army currently employs 150 chaplains – including 50 Protestant pastors, 40 Roman Catholic almoners, humanist representatives, two rabbis, and two Hindus.