18 November 2011
A large scale project in the Netherlands, entitled Hoofdboek, aims to provide an overview of the lives of Dutch Muslim women wearing the headscarves. The project will involve a book, survey, traveling exhibition and social media platform. The National Headscarf Survey component of the project has been conducted by Motivaction and interviewed some 1570 participants, both Muslim and non-Muslim Dutch women. The results, presented in Hoofdboek, indicate that 60% of Dutch Muslim women elect to wear a headscarf for reasons ranging from its reflection of the wearer’s identity to fashion; women begin wearing the headscarf at an average age of 19. Close to 75% of those not wearing a headscarf said they might do so in the future. In terms of fashion, the average woman has a wardrobe of 34 scarves, and style is an increasing consideration in their selection. Respondent said they would like to see high profile Dutch women including Queen Beatrix, Yolanthe Sneijder-Cabeau or, most popularly, Princess Maxima, wear a headscarf once.
June 10 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a profile of Omeed (a pseudonym), a 27 year old Dutch Muslim homosexual. Omeed, whose parents immigrated to the Netherlands from Pakistan, says that being Muslim and homosexual was not something he regarded as problematic. “I was and still am a believer but I also knew that Allah made me this way.” Omeed notes that while he is an exception in the Dutch Muslim community, more and more gays and lesbians are ‘coming out partially- i.e. carefully, to a very select circle of friends and- in some cases- family members’.
May 16 2011
Ahmed Marcouch, and Amsterdam politician and MP, has been recognized for his role promoting gay rights in “making homosexuality a discussible subject among Muslim”. The jury awarding the homo-emancipation prize reported being “impressed by the courage and fortitude Mr. Marcouch showed in bringing what is for many a sensitive subject into the open, both at local and national level [sic].” Marcouch has been a local politician in Amsterdam’s Slotervaart neighbourhood before being elected to parliament in last June’s elections.
January 21 2011
Wikileaks documents have revealed a concerted effort by Washington to court a series of prominent Dutch Muslims in the wake of the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that, following the murder, US authorities deemed the Netherlands home to the most poorly integrated Muslim community in Europe, and one with strongly anti-American views. Consequently, diplomats were instructed to contact leading members of the Dutch Muslim community in order to cultivate greater understanding for American views. This process also involved offering trips to the US for prominent journalists and politicians including Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam.
Following the mention of three Coptic churches – located in Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam- on a website considered to have links to Al Qaida, Muslim organizations in the Netherlands have denounced the threat. The Dutch Muslim Council, the Council of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands and the Federation of Islamic Organizations have offered protection to the churches in a statement in the Telegraaf. “It is up to us to do so because Al-Qaeda is claiming to act in the name of Islam. Christian Copts, us (Muslims), and all Dutch have the same enemy: the terrorists,” the statement said. “We can’t sleep at the idea that Christian Copts may be attacked here, in the Netherlands.”
Amsterdam police chief Bernard Welten has come under fire after suggesting that, should the burqa be banned in the country, his officers would not necessarily arrest women wearing the garment. Describing the issue as ‘extremely complicated’ Welten, noting that officers would have to ‘think hard’ before taking such a step. Under the governing coalition between conservatives (VVD), Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Party for Freedom (PVV), the accord has agreed to ban face covering clothing and the proposal is expected to pass successfully through parliament in the near future.
Welten faced criticism from several political parties, including the VVD and the PVV. Meanwhile Labour MP Ahmed Marcouch called the debate a non-issue, noting that he has never seen a burqa in Amsterdam. Orthodox Dutch Muslim organization As-Soennah has welcomed the remarks by Welten as ‘courageous’.
December 14 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that Dutch Muslim women face increasing difficulties in finding husbands. In the article, Naoual Loiazizi of the Netherlands Association of Muslim Women notes that “many girls have a hard time finding a man who shares their outlook on life”. Nermin Altintas of the Yasmin foundation in the Hague suggests that one factor contributing to the difficulty is the decrease in tendency for parents to help a woman identify potential husbands, so that “men and women are increasingly left to their own devices to find potential partners”.
December 5 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide this week runs a profile of the stories of four Muslim women in the Netherlands who have experienced sexual abuse, under the headline “Sex Abuse in Muslim families goes unreported”. The accounts, from Dutch Moroccan women victimized by male family members, are accompanied by comments, from emergency shelter Fier Frieslan, that Muslim girls may not always file a complaint in cases of abuse, as well as from a representative for the National Centre for Expertise on Honour-related Violence claiming that “there isn’t a higher incidence of incest in the Muslim community than in the native Dutch community”.
December 9 2010
Telegraaf reports that the Ansar Al Mujahideen website, a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda worldwide carefully monitored by security services, is run by a group of Dutch Muslims. The site, registered with a Brussels PO Box, also includes an Arabic and a German section in addition to primarily English and Dutch articles. According to the Telegraaf report, “intelligence sources confirm that the English part of the website is run by a dozen Dutch Muslim extremists” including women and those with ties to the Hofstad Group.
September 20 2010
The Netherlands’ National Ombudsman has ruled that Muslim women who are being detained in cells, and are thus required to remove their headscarves, should not be confronted by male police officers. The decision comes after a Muslim woman was asked to hand over her headscarf to female police officers while male officers watched. The Ombudsman ruled that the police officers did not sufficiently respect her freedom of religion.
Headscarves have to be removed from detainees for ‘safety reasons’, following an incident in 2004 when a detained woman committed suicide using her headscarves.