21 June 2011
An MP from left-wing liberal party D66 has proposed that religious schools no longer maintain special status in the education system, and that subsidies for such schools should be limited to primary education. In an interview with De Pers, Boris van der Ham says the current law allows religious schools to ‘cover up wrongdoings’.
March 15 2011
Parliamentarian Jeanine Hennis, member of the right wing liberal VVD, currently the country’s largest party in government, wants to ban public servants working in town halls from wearing hijab. During an interview with De Pers Hennis motioned for “an open discussion on the separation between church and state” on the matter, adding that the ban should cover all religious symbols. At the same time, she dismissed the misgivings of Christian parties who “regard it as an infringement on freedom of religion” because, she says, the freedom of religion is enshrined in and protected by law.
Dutch news site AD has removed an image of the Vilks cartoon after using it to illustrate a story on the plot to murder the Swedish cartoonist. Acting editor Bart Verkade notes that the site received many offended responses, including an email campaign organized by the As-Soenna mosque in The Hague. In covering the story about the removal of the cartoon from AD, both De Pers and Elsevier reprinted the image, to further criticism from Imam Sheik Fawaz Jneid of the As-Soennah mosque.
Leftwing Green (GroenLinks) leader Femke Halsema expressed criticism of Islam in an interview with newspaper De Pers, stating that the religion is “of course a problem”. The statement was a response to the newspaper’s suggestion that the ‘progressive’ GroenLinks does not campaign against orthodox Islam. Halsema reacted dismissively to the claim, citing her provocative 2006 criticism of fundamental Muslims, fundamental American Christians and the Roman Catholic Church as an “axis of religious evil” for their oppression of women. Invited to criticize Islam without making a parallel attack on Catholicism, Halsema did not shy away. “I notice it in my district: of course Islam is a problem. Anyway, specifically Islam in combination with illiteracy. It is: having few of your own opinions about the good life. (…) Being fearful of our society and thereby becoming very susceptible to what the Imam thinks, who is often very conservative.”