Netherlands turns back Hamas minister

The Netherlands turned back a Palestinian minister with the Islamist movement Hamas on Friday who was headed for a conference on refugees, the minister said. Speaking to Arab news channel Al-Jazeera from his plane, sports and youth minister Bassem Naim said he was stopped at Brussels airport where he was to have made a stopover and told his Netherlands visa had been revoked. Belgian police told him that the justice ministry in the Netherlands had cancelled the entry visa on the grounds that he was “dangerous for the security of the Dutch people”, the minister said. Since the formation of a unity government in March between Hamas, which is branded a terrorist group in the EU and United States, and the mainstream Fatah party, some countries have restored contacts but only with non-Hamas ministers. In the West Bank political capital of Ramallah, information minister Mustafa Barghouti said: “We are surprised by this decision and we expect the Netherlands to take a balanced stand between Israel and the Palestinians.”