MP Tofik Dibi of the Green Left has accused the Dutch government of inflating immigration statistics in order to justify their affiliation with the anti-immigration party PVV. Dibi told ANP, “It is bizarre. You would think ministers were pleased the figures were not as high as they make them out to be.”
The discussion centers around granting family reunification visas, the focus of new and increasingly strict immigration policy in the country. Immigration Minister Gerd Leers commented that 25,000 people were given visas in 2010 for family reunification, but as it turns out 4,000 of those visas were for babies born in the Netherlands to immigrants residing in the country. The current coalition government has pledged as a condition of its support from the PVV to reduce immigration from non-western countries by half.
The Dutch cabinet has passed a ban on burqas in the Netherlands which would take effect from next year, making the Netherlands the second European Union country to ban the burqa after France. The ban is to apply in public spaces, to face covering clothing including the niqab, but also balaclavas and motorcycle helmets worn “in inappropriate places”, Deputy Prime Minister Verhagen announced. Verhagen denied that this was a ban on religious clothing, and noted that uncovered faces are an important part of “open” communication in Dutch society.
The ban will not apply in religious spaces such as mosques and churches, or to those passing through Dutch airports on travel. The new law to be submitted to parliament next week still has to be approved by both houses of parliament but would see fines of up to 390 Euros for those covering their faces. Academics in the country note that the move is highly “symbolic” in the respect that only an estimated 100-400 women in the country currently wear face covering veils.
While Geert Wilders of the anti-Islam PVV sent a supportive tweet regarding the news, the ban has met with widespread criticism. In Parliament, Tofik Dibi of the Green Left expressed disappointment about the emphasis on this issue during a time when energy is better spent combating an economic crisis, as did the leader of the Christian Union party. Organizations representing Muslims condemned the move for preventing women from deciding for themselves whether to wear a burqa, as women’s group Al Nisa commented, “Self-determination is our top priority. Some women may now well decide to wear a burqa in defiance of the ban, but a number of women are now likely not to leave their home any longer.” from interest groups supporting minority, women’s, and religious rights, as well as from politicians in the country’s Green Left Party.
6 December 2011
Dutch parliamentarians are calling for a ban on an imam who supports a young marriage age for girls. Mohamed al- Maghraoui , who is due to attend a conference later this month in the Hague, published a fatwa in Morocco (2008) accepting nine as a marriageable age for girls. Members from the Dutch Labor (PvdA) and Liberal (VVD) Parties have requested that the controversial imam not receive a visa. Muslim MP Tofik Dibi of the Green Left party supported the visit as an opportunity for free-thinking Muslims to “break through this sort of man’s position of power”. He noted further that it was “encouraging to see how many Muslim-Dutch people are giving this man the cold shoulder”.
9 September 2011
Dutch MP Tofik Dibi of the Green Left has announced the launch of an anti-fatwa awareness campaign designed to “free Muslims …to think independently and make their own choices”. Dibi made the plans for his campaign public in a letter published in the newspaper Volkskrant, in association with the 9/11 anniversary memorial coverage. Dibi’s letter, co-authored by Achmed Marcouch, Naima Azough, and Mohamed Ajouaou, declares itself ‘the last fatwa’, and calling for Muslims to reject “top down decrees issued by a handful of scholars”, which are “kidnapping …the Islamic faith.” His campaign is to be presented in English, Arabic and Dutch.
June 9 2011
A proposed ban on ritual slaughter which currently had majority support in the Netherlands parliament is facing continued resistance. The ban targets the production of kosher and halal meat in the country. Members of the national Green Left (GroenLinks) are being asked to vote against the ban, while the VVD party asks the government to refocus its attention on industrial rather than ritual slaughter. The parliament is due to debate the issue again on June 16.
May 7 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a profile on two Muslim politicians in the Netherlands, asking “what is it like to be a Muslim MP in a parliament that also houses well-known anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders?” Coskun Coruz (MP for the Christian Democrats) and Tofik Dibi (MP for the Green Left) are two of seven MPs identifying as practicing Muslims. In response to Wilders’ provocative comments regarding Islam Coruz comments, “It makes me feel quite unpleasant when Wilders says that stuff. Because it’s quite personal, it reflects on one’s character. And I’m not willing to change my religion.” According to Dibi, “I’m living proof that he’s wrong. I was brought up here, I’m Muslim, but I love freedom way more than he does.”