Update: Further Criticism of Planned ‘Burqa Ban’ in Netherlands

7 February 2012

The Dutch cabinet’s plans to introduce a ban on the burqa continues to draw criticism. The Dutch Council of State, the government’s highest advisory body, as announced that it does not see the need for the ban, and suggests the government is being led by “subjective feelings of insecurity”. The advisory body has said that it is not a government decision to regulate what women can wear, and that other laws are in p lace to ensure public safety without the ban. The government rejected earlier objections from the Council and it is unclear what impact the statement will have now. Ministers maintain that the ban is necessary to preserve public order and security.

Meanwhile, attention to reactions among Muslims in the country to the advancing ban remains scarce. Beyond the initial comments from the spokesperson for the Turkish organization IOT, as well as the head of the women’s organization Al Nisa, both of whom expressed concerns that the ban would cause women to become isolated in their homes, few Muslim voices have attained prominence in the mainstream media coverage.

Dutch Immigration Minister Calls to Eliminate Term ‘Allochtoon’

31 January 2012

 

Immigration minister Geerd Leers has called for elimination of the term allochtoon, a designation connoting “non-native” and widely  \applied in popular use to describe non-western immigrants (particularly from Turkey and Morocco) and their children, up to third generation. Leers commented in a magazine interview, “I want people born in the Netherlands to be called Dutch, plain and simple… I can understand why people who give themselves 100% to society ask themselves why they are being dismissed in such a derogatory way.” Telegraaf reports that Leers’ position is notable, contrasting that of the PVV party in alliance with the minority cabinet, which aims to broaden the scope of the term.

Update: Continued Reaction to Dutch Cabinet Adoption of Burqa Ban

28 January 2012

Following last week’s announcement that the Dutch cabinet had adopted a ban on face coverings despite the grave reservations of the government’s advisory body and highest court, media coverage has reported a range of response.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the chair of the police works council has criticized the ban as ‘symbolic policy’ and feels that it is unlikely to have practical benefits. Security and Justice Minister Yvo Opstelten responded to the comments by noting that once approved, police will be obliged to enforce the ban.

The Jerusalem Post notes several instances of women condemning the ban, including those who feel that it would encourage more women to don a burqa. Fatima Elatik, a practicing Muslim of Moroccan descent who is district mayor of East Amsterdam. Elatik opposes the ban on this basis. The same article reports that a politician for the country’s Green Left party is calling upon ‘all women’ to wear a burqa as a form of protest to the ban.

Meanwhile, a comic who responded to the controversy by creating farcical online dance video  ‘Do the Burqa’ has faced threats.

Last week’s adoption by the Dutch cabinet considerably furthered the likelihood of the ban passing into law. However, the ban must still pass a vote in parliament before becoming law.

Former French Muslim Minister Dati Accuses French Prime Minister of Prejudice

News Agencies – December 14, 2011

 

Rachida Dati, the first Muslim woman of North African origin to hold a senior French government post, focused a public complaint against the prime minister, François Fillon, in whose cabinet she served as justice minister. Fillon, she wrote in a scathing letter to Le Monde, represented a staid political elite that “never favoured women” and stopping ethnic-minority candidates from running for election.

Dati said she had a “duty of resistance” against the “lone ambition of the powerful”. The ferocious language stems from a row over who will run for a safe Right-wing parliamentary seat representing the affluent 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements on Paris’s Left bank.

NY Times Book Review: The Not-So-Invisible Empire

Imagine a political movement created in a moment of terrible anxiety, its origins shrouded in a peculiar combination of manipulation and grass-roots mobilization, its ranks dominated by Christian conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots, its agenda driven by its members’ fervent embrace of nationalism, nativism and moral regeneration, with more than a whiff of racism wafting through it.

The Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, they called it. And for a few years it burned across the nation, a fearsome thing to ­behold.  In “One Hundred Percent American,” Thomas R. Pegram, a professor of history at Loyola University Maryland, traces the Invisible Empire’s meteoric rise and equally precipitous fall. The ’20s Klan was born, he explains — or more precisely was reborn — on Thanksgiving evening 1915, when 16 Southerners trooped up Stone Mountain, in Georgia, for a bit of ritual bunkum inspired by D. W. Griffith’s incendiary film “The Birth of a Nation.”

At the end of the book, though, Baker steps back from her texts. Suddenly her analysis becomes more pointed. Yes, the Klan had a very short life. But it has to be understood, she contends, as of a piece with other moments of fevered religious nationalism, from the anti-Catholic riots of the antebellum era to modern anti-­Islam bigots. Indeed, earlier this year, Herman Cain declared that he wouldn’t be comfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet. It’s tempting to see those moments as Pegram does the Klan: desperate, even pitiful attempts to stop the inevitable broadening of American society. But Baker seems closer to the mark when she says that there’s a dark strain of bigotry and exclusion running through the national experience. Sometimes it seems to weaken. And sometimes it spreads, as anyone who reads today’s papers knows, fed by our fears and our hatreds.

Muslim Coalition Asks GOP Debaters to Reject Islamophobia

Several debate participants have history of promoting anti-Muslim bias

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/13/11) — The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT*), a national coalition of major Muslim organizations, today called on Republican presidential candidates to repudiate growing Islamophobia in American society during tonight’s GOP debate in New Hampshire.”
In a statement, AMT said: “We call on all the participants in tonight’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire to state clearly that they will not promote or exploit growing anti-Muslim sentiment to gain political advantage. While appealing to fear and religious intolerance may score some cheap political points with a vocal minority in American society, our nation and its values of diversity and inclusion are harmed in the process. “American Muslims deserve the same rights and respect as other citizens.”
AMT says several of those taking part in tonight’s debate hold Islamophobic views or promote unconstitutional measures targeting American Muslims. For example:
• Herman Cain first said he would not appoint a Muslim to a cabinet position, but later modified that stance by calling for an unconstitutional “loyalty” oath for Muslim appointees.
• Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum calls Sharia, or Islamic principles, “an existential threat” to America. In a “lecture on Islam,” Santorum falsely claimed the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, was written in “Islamic.”
• Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has suggested a federal anti-Sharia law. He also said: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they [his grandchildren] are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists. …” Gingrich once issued a statement calling for a ban on all mosques near Ground Zero “so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”
• In response to a 2005 debate question about French Muslims, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said: “Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal.”
• Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty touted his cancellation of a Minnesota agency’s Sharia-compliant mortgage program designed to help Muslim homebuyers.
• Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said in 2007 that he would not consider Muslims for cabinet posts. Romney stated: “. …based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.” (Romney later disputed the accuracy of that quote.)

Dutch Interior Minister: Eliminate Support for Migrants

17 June 2011

In a letter to the Dutch parliament, Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner has requested an end to government policies which target integrating ethnic migrant groups in the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports the move is a part of the cabinet distancing itself from multicultural society as a concession to the Freedom Party (PVV), which is supporting the current government. The Labour Party and democrat party D66 fear that this proposed shift is a ‘historic error’. Donner is also advancing a proposal to prosecute for forced marriage and to ban facial covering in public.

French interior minister apologizes for likening Libya intervention to a crusade

News Agencies – March 23, 2011
Claude Guéant, France’s new interior minister, has been forced into expressing regret for having likened his country’s diplomatic drive for international military intervention in Libya to a “crusade”. Mr Guéant had praised Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, for having “headed the crusade to mobilise the United Nations Security Council, and then the Arab League and the African Union.”
In spite of raising hackles in the Middle East and Russia, Mr Guéant had earlier been unrepentant, telling fellow right-wingers that the modern usage of the term “crusade” did not necessarily have religious overtones. Mr Guéant was named interior minister in a cabinet reshuffle sparked by the resignation of former Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. She was discredited after taking a holiday in Tunisia over Christmas, just as a popular revolt erupted there. Nicknamed “The Cardinal” during his time as the Elysée’s secretary general, Mr Guéant was admired for his diplomatic skills. But since taking a ministerial post, he has been pilloried for his lack of tact.

Secrecy Over Dutch Immigration Plans

March 10 2011

The Volkskrant reports that the Dutch coalition government will not allow opposition parliamentarians to see its calculations to halve the number of non-western immigrants to the country. The plans follow anti-Islam party PVV’s support for the current minority government, which was conditional upon halving non-western immigration to the country. Previous documents showed the cabinet planned to cut the figures by 15%, but the PVV maintains that civil service figures show a 50% cut is possible.

Schools May Not Ban Headscarf on Basis of “Values”

Religious schools in the Netherlands may not ban Muslim pupils from wearing headscarves on the basis that it contradicts their ‘core values’. Rather, the ban may only operate if it threatens the pupil’s education. This announcement from the Dutch cabinet responded to questions from the anti-Islam PVV, following controversy regarding a Muslim pupil at a Catholic school in Volendam. The student has subsequently agreed to cover her head only in the assembly hall and school corridors, Telegraaf reports. Education Minister and Home Affairs Minister also dismissed suggestions that wearing headscarves demonstrates gender inequality, stating “fashion dictates all sorts of differences between the way men and women dress”.

February 9 2011