[ By Leon de Winter in Amsterdam] Fear of fanatical Islamists prompted Ayaan Hirsi Ali to leave the Netherlands, her adopted home, and now she has been forced to return. Paying for her bodyguards in the United States is too expensive for the Dutch government — what a disgrace. There are exactly five people that the Dutch government has to protect against death threats from radical Islamists. This sort of protection is expensive. Society bears the costs because freedom of opinion, a cornerstone of our culture, is on the line. The extremists, for their part, are prepared to risk their own lives to kill those under government protection. The costs of protection are completely disproportionate to the outcome: the continued existence of our values and norms.
Former Dutch legislator and Islam critic Hirsi Ali has been under state-funded protection since extremists began threatening her life in 2004. Now the Dutch government has said it won’t pay for her protection if she continues to live and work in the United States.
Dutch ex-Muslim youth have united under a new organization in Amsterdam, the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims, according reports on Wednesday. Ehsan Jami, one of the founders of the committee and a city council member for the PvdA Labour Party in Leidschendam-Voorburg, a small city near The Hague, said the committee aimed to help other so-called Muslims apostates. According to Jami, people who officially renounced their Muslim faith often received death threats from former co-religionists. The committee also aims to discuss issues like domestic violence and the violation of women’s rights in the Muslim world, Jami said on Wednesday in the news radio broadcast De Ochtenden. The organization called on the Dutch government to assist former Muslims receiving death threats. Former Iranian refugee Afshin Ellian, a well-known professor in international law and philosophy who plays an active role in the ongoing public debate about Islam, immigrants and democracy in the Netherlands, has agreed to help the Committee.
British Muslim leaders called on the government to establish a national body to oversee mosques and imams as part of efforts to combat extremism following the July bombings in London. Working groups advising the government said that the proposed National Advisory Council of Imams and Mosques could recommend ways for mosques to prevent extremism, train Imams and encourage British-born Muslims to become clerics. Lord Ahmed, a Labour Party member of the House of Lords who headed one of the groups on Thursday, said that 1,700 of the estimated 2,000 Imams in Britain were educated and trained abroad. “As British Muslims we need to be prepared to modernise the way we operate, encouraging integration and helping our children to feel proud to be British,” he said. “I and my colleagues believe that the establishment of this Advisory Council is an important step towards this goal.” European governments seeking to counter the spread of extremism within some mosques are concerned that sermons are often not conducted in the country’s predominant language and that many clerics come from abroad rather than from local Muslim communities. The Dutch government earlier this year revoked the residency permits of three Imams whom it accused of preaching hate. In France, where a third of the 1,200 Imams do not speak French, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy recently called for better oversight of mosques in order to root out radicals.
AMSTERDAM – Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named “Genoeg is genoeg” (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government’s tough immigration and integration policies. The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday. Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk arrived in Rabat for an official visit on Monday. She toured the Dutch embassy where modifications have been made to house the new integration tests that are to be introduced for would-be immigrants to the Netherlands. While there was news on Monday that other European countries are interested in the immigration policies being pioneered by Verdonk, the spokesmen for the new action committee described her policies as discriminatory and racist. “These policies are creating a greater rift between ‘us and them’, one of the representatives said. The ‘Genoeg is genoeg’ group wanted to hold a demonstration in Rabat to coincide with Verdonk’s visit but the authorities did not grant them a permit to do so. The group says there should be no difference between the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It argues that the Cabinet’s integration plans as well as limitations on family reunification and dual nationality hits at the principle of equal rights for all dutch citizens. “We don’t want a separate policy for one group as that leads to Apartheid,” one of the spokesmen said.