16 February 2012
Amsterdam’s Free University (VU) has cancelled a debate organized by the Islamic
Student Union of Amsterdam, which was to see Haitham al-Haddad, a controversial
Saudi-born scholar living in London, in conversation with Yasser Ellethy of the
Centre for Islamic Theology. The subject of the debate was the role of the Muslim
scholar in the west.
Al-Haddad has faced criticism for making anti-semitic remarks, including reportedly
describing Jews as ‘the enemies of God and the descendents of apes and pigs’. The
Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), opposed his presence
in the Netherlands and requested that the VU rescind the invitation. MPs from the
country’s Freedom Party (PVV) and Christian Union Party urged the government to
bar al-Haddad from entering the Netherlands.
The VU initially continued with plans for the debate but cancelled the event on 16
February, following complaints from Jewish students.
31 October 2011
In advance of parliamentary elections in Morocco on 25 November, in which the king will transfer his governmental authority to a prime minister, Dutch organizations have created an online ‘Vote Compass’ for the country. The Compass, available in French and Arabic, enables participants to respond to a series of questions, indicating which of the competing political parties’ views most closely reflect their own. The Compass was created by the Free University of Amsterdam and was launched in association with Radio Netherlands Worldwide; it has no links to any party, candidate or government body.
2 November 2011
A master’s thesis written by two sociology students at Amsterdam’s Free University concludes that the nation’s temporary job agencies participate in discrimination. The researchers note that in 76.8% of cases, temp agencies agreed when asked whether it was possible not to supply Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese workers – a clear violation of Dutch anti-discrimination law.
10 July 2011
A doctoral student at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU) has investigated the attitude of European countries towards headscarves and concluded that ‘national ideas about religion and ethnicity play an important role’. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports on Doutje Lettinga’s thesis and summarizes her findings that women wearing the headscarf are being ignored in the heat of political debate.
4 February 2011
Renowned scholar of Islam Gudrun Krämer regularly contributes to the public debate on Islam in Germany. She is director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the Free University Berlin and director of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies. Her special research subjects include religion, law, politics, society and the modern age of Islam. According to Prof Krämer, the problem with the discourse on Islam and Muslims in Germany is that it generally focuses on “problem areas”, completely ignoring the positive aspects of Muslim life and integration.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide published a profile of the increasing number of Islamic academics in Dutch universities. While Muslim youth remain negatively portrayed in the press, the number of Muslim students and Islamic organizations in Dutch universities is growing rapidly. The Free University of Amsterdam has 2000 Muslim students, ten percent of the student body. Islamic students organizations such as MashriQ are made up of Muslim students from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, including Somalia, Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, etc.
According to Wolfgang Benz, head of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin’s Free University, there are structural similarities in the stigmatization of Muslims and Jews. An interview by Claudia Mende