October 15 2010
As the new Dutch government is installed this week, considerable attention focuses on its policies towards Islam and immigration. The minority government coalition, consisting of the Liberal (VVD) and Christian Democrat (CDA) parties, is supported by Geert Wilders’ Freedom (PVV) party, which places Islam at the top of its agenda. New prime minister Mark Rutte denies a focus on Islam in the government, but the policy for the coalition has already been agreed upon, and Wilders’ influence is evident in the coalition’s plans to tighten immigration controls. Meanwhile, new defence minister Hans Hillen notes that Dutch diplomats will have to work harder to explain the country’s good intentions in Muslim countries, stating that “It will be our task to present an image…. that this cabinet isn’t biased or prejudiced in any way against Islam.”
A recruiting campaign by the Dutch government aimed at attracting young workers will picture a veiled Muslim woman with the slogan “working for the government, if you think ahead”. The image is juxtaposed with a photo of a woman with a lip piercing, alongside a series of other supposedly contrasting images including a construction site and greenery.
Questioned by the VVD regarding the meaning of the advertisement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs says that the campaign illustrates issues facing the government. “This shows that there are differences in culture of young Dutch, with which as government you have to deal with,” reports Telegraaf.
The Dutch government is investigating possible fraud with halal certificates in the country, Volkskrant reports. The General Inspection Service, a division of the Agricultural Ministry, last month revealed that a meat wholesaler from Breda had used forged documents to sell several thousand tons of meat to Muslims in France.
Ben Ali-Salah, director of Halal Correct, an organization granting halal certificates in Leiden, says that documents of his certifying bureau are forged en-masse for meat cargoes which don’t deserve the title of halal.
Although the term halal seems to have been naturalized in the Netherlands, it is not legally protected. Controversy surrounding the certification and authenticity of halal meats continues as demand for halal products has produced a boom in certifying agencies.
The Dutch government plans to introduce measures to stem the influx of foreign brides and grooms. Would-be marriage migrants will have to be at least 18, and marriages between cousins, aunts and uncles will no longer be allowed.
The measures are aimed at marriages between Dutch residents of foreign origin – particularly from Turkey and Morocco, but increasingly also Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia – and people from their respective countries. There are concerns that such marriages are an obstacle to the integration of ethnic minorities into Dutch society, Radio Netherlands reports.
Dutch justice minister, Ernst Hirsch Ballin stated that “the new rules are meant to protect the Dutch society and the women themselves”.
The civic integration exam, which would-be marriage migrants have to pass before being admitted to the Netherlands, is to be made more difficult. Under the new system, potential import brides and grooms will have to meet higher Dutch language criteria. They will also have to participate in job training upon arrival.
The Dutch government has decided to deny the Freedom Party (PVV) request to calculate the precise cost and benefit of immigration. The party requested accounts from each ministry regarding the cost and benefit of immigrants, but Minister of Integration Eberhard van der Laan says ministers will only give figures that are already available in the budget. The Freedom Party says it is astonished that Dutch voters are not allowed to know how much mass immigration costs.
Imams graduating from Dutch government training programs are unable to find work in mosques, Trouw reports. Three educational institutions offer courses for qualification, an initiative of the cabinet to train imams familiar with Dutch language and culture. However mosques do not have the funds to hire graduates of the program and locally trained imams are not necessarily popular with the older generation of worshippers. To date, no mosques in the Netherlands have hired an imam from the program.
Local governments are enforcing a new law which calls for every Dutch person born to a Moroccan mother, to be compelled to accept Moroccan nationality.
For many years, Moroccan law stipulated that children born to a Moroccan father are automatically Moroccan nationals. The legislation is being tightened further, now calling for children of a Moroccan mother – and the father of a different nationality – to also automatically obtain Moroccan citizenship.
Local authorities in the Netherlands are obeying the new law from Rabat. In accordance with Morocco’s wishes, Dutch municipalities are registering children of at least one Moroccan parent as Moroccan. Such cooperation is drawing criticism from a number of Dutch politicians. Conservative MP Paul de Krom says that the move is “bizarre and shocking that the Dutch government is pro-actively cooperating with the territorial inclinations of another country, even when parents have not requested it themselves.” Dual nationality is not usually permitted in the Netherlands, but Moroccan citizens are among those exempted from this rule, as Morocco does not allow for its citizens to renounce their Moroccan nationality.
According to Dutch government counter-terrorism chief Tjibbe Joustra, the threat of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands is higher than ever. At present, the threat level rests at its second highest level – “substantial.” Justra, however, said that he believes the level should be set to “substantial plus.” He dies not say what specific threats have lead to this occasion.
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A Dutch lawmaker who produced a film criticizing Islam and the Quran, released the short film on Thursday by posting it on the internet. The film by Geert Wilders cites verses of the Quran interspersed with images of violence, and scenes from terrorist attacks in the United States and Spain, and the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. The Dutch government had warned the legislator that such an offensive film could spark protests in Muslim countries. A Dutch judge was due on Friday to hear the petition of a Muslim group seeking an independent review of the film to examine whether or not it violates laws on hate speech. The Dutch Islamic Federation was asking the court to impose a fine of _50,000 ($79,000) for every day that the film was available to the public. The film, named _Fitna,’ was released on the public video website LiveLeak after the internet domain hosting Geert’s website removed the site from public view, upon review of the site’s content.
Germany’s federal criminal police have warned of an increased risk of terrorist attack following the release on the internet of a controversial anti-Islam film. The film titled “Fitna”, by maverick Dutch politician Gert Wilders, features excerpts of the Koran interspersed with images of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. It also includes a cartoon image of the Prophet Mohammed, which provoked outrage in Muslim countries in 2006. The film has been condemned as inflammatory by both the Dutch government and the European Union. The 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference said the film aimed to provoke “intolerance among people of different religious beliefs”.