Henny Kreeft, leader of the Dutch Muslim Party (NMP), announced Monday that the party will contest upcoming local council elections in Venlo, hometown of politician Geert Wilders. The vote, to be held November 18, 2009, is the result of redrawing council boundaries.
Four candidates – two with a Moroccan, one with a Turkish and one with a Pakistani background – will be on the NMP election list. The party hopes to win two seats, one from Labour and one from the green left GroenLinks party.
Kreeft told Telegraaf that running in Wilders’ hometown is a coincidence, stating ‘Venlo is very important for us’. The party plans to participate in nine local council elections next year.
A Dutch Muslim woman who has worn a headscarf for the past two years is calling for participants in a walk of tolerance “to create awareness and demand tolerance for our faith and our headscarf.” Joany Dahlmans tells Wereld Journalisten that she hopes to gather participants to walk as a group in the Four Days Marches in Nijmegen in 2010, when the country participates in a massive series of walking marches. The march is Dahlman’s response to her own experience being cursed and jeered at on previous marches. She tells Wereld Journalisten that she wants to show veiled Muslim women that they deserve just as much respect and opportunities in society. “My experience is a minuscule part of what takes place in society. I hope that the ‘Walk of Tolerance’ kindles the social debate.”
The report – “Youth and their Islam” – is from a study of Muslim youth in the Netherlands. Among the findings are that these young people do not believe they receive enough support to develop their faith, and that society does not give them room to practice their Islam. Among the specific needs that are not being met, the Muslim youth polled responded that counseling or coaching concerning receiving insults, more accessible mosques (including for women), educational support and meditation areas in schools and places of work. Respondents said that in general, they feel that it is possible to be a Muslim in the Netherlands, but that there is always a debate, negative treatment, and a feeling of not being accepted as full citizens.
On Friday, Muslim nations condemned the film ‘Fitna’ which accuses the Quran of inciting violence, and Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint. Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous, and anti-Islamic. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation and former Dutch colony, said that the film was an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression. The Saudi Arabian embassy in the Hague said that the film was full of errors, incorrect allegations, and could lead towards hatred of Muslims. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the film.
Five Dutch Muslim intellectuals are asking the government to intervene on the planned release of a controversial anti-Islam film by Geert Widers. Farhad Golyardi, Faisal Mirza, Shervin Nekuee, Frank Sadiqqi, and Tariq Shadid have called on politicians to stop the release of the film, citing a total lack of effort on their end. The five released a statement citing that they believe it is time that a clear political line should be drawn between freedom of expression and incitement to hate. The five suggest are accusing the government of exploitation of xenophobia, and political cowardice.
THE HAGUE (AFP) – A Dutch Muslim radical was sentenced to four years in jail by an Amsterdam appeals court on Monday for planning a terrorist attack in 2004. Samir Azzouz had already been acquitted on the same charges twice by a lower court and an appeals court which said his plans were “so clumsy and primitive” that they were not a threat. But the case was referred for re-trial by the Dutch supreme court earlier this year, and the Amsterdam appeals court ruled Monday that the Azzouz was indeed planning an attack. Police found floor plans of government buildings, chemicals and night vision goggles and a silencer for a gun at his home.
For three years Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali galvanised Dutch society with a frank account of her traumatic past and her conviction that Islam is a violent, misogynous religion. That conviction led to death threats, the murder of her associate, filmmaker Theo van Gogh and, her critics say, the alienation of precisely those she aimed to engage as relations between Muslims and non-Muslims deteriorated as never before. Now almost a year since the former Dutch parliamentarian hit headlines worldwide for admitting she lied to gain asylum in the Netherlands, many of the Dutch-Muslim women Hirsi Ali sought to stir and inspire state bluntly they are relieved she is gone. The 37-year-old now works for a U.S. think-tank, while her international profile as an ex-Muslim critic of Islam soars. “I am glad that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is gone, because now the tone has softened, it has become less extreme and tensions have eased,” said Nermin Altintas, who runs an education centre for migrant women.
One of the first two Muslims appointed to a Dutch Cabinet post, Ahmed Aboutaleb calls himself a “foot soldier” in the cause of immigrant integration. And as a foot soldier, he expects to be a target, he said Wednesday. Since being sworn in last month as junior minister for social affairs, Aboutaleb and fellow Muslim Cabinet minister Nebahat Albayrak have come under sustained political fire over their dual nationalities. Anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party won nine seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament in elections last November, claims their dual passports – Aboutaleb has Moroccan and Dutch nationality, Albayrak Turkish and Dutch – mean they also have split loyalties. Aboutaleb rejects the idea, pointing out that Dutch citizens who collaborated with their country’s Nazi occupiers during World War II only had one passport.
The appointment of two Muslim politicians to the new Dutch cabinet has reawakened a row in the country over dual nationality. Nebahat Albayrak and Ahmed Aboutaleb are both Dutch passport holders, but also have Turkish and Moroccan passports respectively. Right-wing opposition parties want to see an end to dual nationality. The row has led to a call for Princess Maxima, the wife of the Crown Prince, to give up her Argentine nationality. Ahmed Aboutaleb, from Morocco, is the State Secretary for Social Affairs in the new cabinet. Nebahat Albayrak is Turkish and becomes the State Secretary for Justice. Lowered popularity They are the first Muslims to reach the heart of Dutch politics. The opposition right-wing Freedom Party has objected to the new centrist government being allowed to have members with dual nationality. The outgoing right-wing Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, said Princess Maxima, who is married to the heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem Alexander, should give up her Argentine passport. Opinion polls show the row over dual nationality has lowered the popularity of the new government. But Ahmed Aboutaleb is credited with helping immigrants to find jobs as well as pushing for more integration.
Dutch Muslims have criticised a government proposal to ban women from wearing the burqa or veils which cover the face in public places. Dutch Muslim groups say a ban would make the country’s one million Muslims feel victimised and alienated. The Dutch cabinet said burqas – a full body covering that also obscures the face – disturb public order and safety. The proposed ban would apply to wearing the burqa in the street, and in trains, schools, buses and law courts in the Netherlands. Other forms of face coverings, such as veils, and crash helmets with visors that obscure the face, would also be covered by a ban. Critics of the proposed ban say it would violate civil rights. The main Muslim organisation in the Netherlands, CMO, said the plan was an “over-reaction to a very marginal problem.”