Members of Parliament are calling for a debate with justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin regarding a conference scheduled at the end of May on the future of Islam in the Netherlands. The Telegraaf reports that the MPs are concerned about the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood in the conference, entitled “Islam in Holland- Meditating on the Present and Future Horizons”. According to the organizers, the conference aims to clarify misunderstandings around controversial issues of Islam in the Netherlands.
The government will crack down on attempts to practice aspects of sharia (Islamic) law in the Netherlands which involve compulsion, pressure and a misuse of power, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told parliament on Tuesday. The minister said that some differences may be settled in a manner which does not conflict with public order, so long as they were entered into voluntarily. Nonetheless the cabinet’s job, according to Ballin, is to prevent the establishment of a parallel system in which “people take the law into their own hands or maintain their own legal system which operates outside the framework of our own legal system”.
Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin is considering whether measures against ‘Islamic marriage’ ought to be introduced. Islamic weddings in the Netherlands are generally unofficial, non-government sanctioned ceremonies based on Islamic law. Contracts in Islamic marriages are not legally recognized under Dutch law. As such, there will be no alimony if a couple divorces, and an Islamically bound spouse is not automatically eligible for inheritance if one member of the marriages dies. Labour Party politicians have repeatedly expressed concern that such religious weddings may be forced for some, and may involve polygamy. Ballin condemns the practice, and said that he is not ruling out future criminal proceedings for people who enter into Islamic marriages (without making the marriage legal under Dutch law).
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In response to questions about informal marriages in the Netherlands, Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin said that those who contract informal Muslim marriages should not be punished, but fought with dialogue and information. Hirsch Ballin answered the parliamentary questions of two Labor Party members, who said that they fear informal Muslim marriages could cause forces marriages and polygamy. By law, it is forbidden to contract marriages without being registered; a religious marriage is allowed, but only if it is preceded by a civil marriages.
The secrecy about the content and release date of the anti-Quran film made by a Dutch right-wing politician is worrying officials, who are trying to anticipate reaction and security needs. Ernst Hirsch Ballin told parliament that it would be easier to prepare and assess possible risks if the government knew when populist Geert Wilders planned to release his film, and what was in it. Wilders, who calls the Muslim holy book the Quran as fascist book that incites violence has given few details about the film and has not specified when the film would be released. Ahead of the film’s release, the Netherlands raised its national risk level to substantial earlier this month.