Near completion of new mega mosque “De Westermoskee” in Amsterdam

The building of the Netherland’s largest mega mosque (800 square meter and room for 1700 worshippers) has sparked some controversy over the last two decennia of its establishment. For years the building process was frustrated by several conflicts between the initiating Islamic foundation and the municipality of Amsterdam and housing cooperatives. Despite these obstacles the mega mosque is planned to be ready for interior design and decoration by the end of November.
The mosque board is already in communication with artists from Turkey for the realization of classical Islamic calligraphy in the mosque’s interior. A salient feature of the mosque will be the incorporation of indigenous influences from the artistic style and local culture of Amsterdam on ceilings and walls as well as in the tapestry. According to the mosque board the “Westermoskee” was build with the intention of opening up to not just practicing Muslims but also for the general public. The mosque intents to organize guided tours, expositions, and seminars on Islam. It also intends to involve neighborhood inhabitants in the development of social activity programs.

‘Majority of Mosques target of violence.’

Ineke van der Valk (University of Amsterdam) investigated acts of violence against Muslims and mosques. Two/third of the mosques she questioned have experience some sort of act of violence: the breaking of windows, arson and there were also mosques that found a dead sheep or pig near their mosque.
90% of the mosques went to the police. However in the majority of cases the police ‘didn’t do anything’ and two/third of the perpetrators were never found.
Most of the mosques keep quiet about the incidents in the media, because they are afraid of invoking even more aggression.
CMO (Contact Institution Muslims and Government) pleads for an Islamophobia-register. According to mosques organizations the Islamic communities don’t believe that their reports about the ‘incidents’ are taken seriously by the police.

Retrial Begins for Woman Convicted of Terrorism Charges in the Netherlands

February 15, 2014

 

The case of Soumaya S – given a four year jail term in 2008 for terrorism, and about whose conviction there are now serious doubts – is now being heard in an Amsterdam court, according to the Telegraaf. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of her case in 2011, following claims that justice ministry officials withheld crucial telephone recordings from the defence. Soumaya S’s lawyer claims that the recordings show she was not involved in a plot against Dutch politician as a member of the Hofstadgroep.

 

Dutch News:  http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/02/first_dutch_female_terrorist_r.php#sthash.Zvj0wWVw.dpuf

Amsterdam to Encourage Ethnic Minorities to Vote in Local Elections

January 10, 2014

 

Amsterdam’s city council plans to spend 400,000Euros encouraging ethnic minorities to vote in the upcoming local elections. Turnout in local elections is usually 50% and the city council wants to see an increase to 65%. To do this the city is planning a ‘specific approach to target specific groups’, says mayor van der Laan. Some parties oppose the move, and D66 campaign leader Jan Paternotte commented “City council money should be used to reach all Amsterdammers, not just ethnic minority voters.” The campaign has been spearheaded by a member of the Labour party, which has a high level of support among people with Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese backgrounds.

 

Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/01/local_elections_amsterdam_earm.php

Belgian Court of Appeals Jails Dutch Moroccan Men

January 9, 2014

 

A Belgian appeal court has found three men from Amsterdam, of Moroccan origin, guilty of membership in a terrorist organization. They were said to have collected money and recruited fighters for Chechnya, though charges of conspiring to launch a terrorist attack in Belgium were dropped.

The men deny any involvement in terrorism. One is a former youth worker in Amsterdam West and was a well respected community figure. The men were arrested in 2010 and deported to Belgium in 2011, where they were among 14 suspects involved in the appeal trial. The lower court had found the men not guilty.

 

Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/01/belgian_appeal_court_jails_ams.php

Islamic Secondary School in Rotterdam to Close

10 September 2013

Ibn Ghaldoun School, the Rotterdam secondary school which was the focus of an exam theft earlier this year, is to lose its government funding and close down. According to Sander Dekker, the Netherlands’ Junior Education Minister, the closure is based on a recommendation from school inspectors.

The school has financial difficulties, and according to Dekker, almost 80% of its upper school teachers do not have sufficient levels of Dutch or educational qualification.

The school was the scene of an exam theft in May 2013, when it emerged that 27 national exam papers had been stolen and distributed to students.

Two years ago, Amsterdam’s only Islamic secondary school was also closed due to standards and financial difficulties. The country has some 40 Islamic primary schools.

Widows Abroad Entitled to Dutch Pension

22 August 2013

 

An Amsterdam court has decided that widows abroad, who hold a Dutch surviving  relative pension, may not have their benefits removed. The decision concluded a case brought to court by eleven Moroccan and Turkish widows whose benefits as surviving widows were curtailed considerably because they moved abroad.

 

On 1 January 2013 a residence principle came into effect which demands that such payments be adjusted to the cost of living in countries outside the Netherlands. In countries such as Turkey and Morocco, where the cost of living is lower, the government reduced payments to the surviving relatives by as much as 40%. According to the court case this week, the government reduction contradicts several international agreements, and no alteration to payments should be made based on domicile of the beneficiary.

Celebrating Ramadan in Friesland

8 August 2013

Muslims in the Netherlands celebrated of Eid al-Fitr and the end of Ramadan on 8 August 2013. To mark the event NL Times carries a profile of one man’s celebrations in the Netherlands. Youssef Nashmi is a 30 year old Syrian man living with his family in the province of Friesland. Nashmi’s account contrasts his experience celebrating in the small village of Oosterwarde- with few Muslims and no mosques- compared to activities in major cities such as Utrecht and Amsterdam, home to the majority of the Netherland’s nearly one million Muslims.

Muslim Campaigners for Gay Rights Join Minister for Amsterdam Parade

30 July 2013

 

Campaigners for gay rights within Muslim groups will join Amsterdam’s Emancipation Minister in the city’s Gay Parade. Invited passengers on Bussemaker’s boat include representatives of Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean and Hindustani consultative bodies and partnerships and support points for homosexual immigrant youths. Additionally, the Turkish Dutch homosexual activist Done Fil will be on board.

 

Dutch Muslims Celebrate Ramadan 2013

July 11 2013

 

Dutch Muslims began celebration of Ramadan on July 10. The month coincides with summer holidays in the Netherlands, and many Muslims in the Netherlands spend Ramadan in their home countries. Those who spend Ramadan in the Netherlands attend social and cultural activities, including attending planned Iftar programs in local mosques. Major cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam have built Iftar tents in the most popular sites to welcome Muslim and non-Muslim visitors.

The president of the Federation of Turkish Islamic Culture (TIKDF) Arif Yakisir said that 143 mosques linked to the federation planned to organize Iftar programs every day.