20 May 2013
Claim by newspaper Trouw that part of The Hague’s Schilderswijk district is so dominated by orthodox Muslims that they are dictating what people should wear and how they should behave, have been denied by both police and local politicians.
Under the headline ‘Hague district is orthodox Muslim territory’, Trouw said ‘short skirts and dresses are not accepted on the street’. The paper said the area, with a population of some 5,000, is known by locals as ‘The Sharia Triangle’. ‘Very slowly, the rules in the area are beginning to change,’ the article said. ‘The norms of the majority are beginning to take over.’
But locals were quick to describe the article as exaggerated. ‘We know the area is dominated by Muslims, yes,’ said local Christian Democrat leader Gert-Jan Bakker. ‘But we have never noticed that they are in control.’ Local police chief Michel de Roos told broadcaster Omroep West claims by Trouw that the police allow locals to solve their own problems is not true. The police presence in the area has been strengthened and local beat officers have a strong local network, he said.
Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher and MP and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders both paid visits to the district. Wilders spent 15 minutes walking through the area and did not speak to any locals, RTL news reported. ‘This is a part of the Netherlands where our norms and standards apply,’ Wilders told reporters during his stroll.
Shaker Aamer was sent to Guantánamo Bay in 2002, and cleared to leave in 2007. Now, weakened by hunger strike, he asks what his fate has to do with justice.
The allegations which Aamer denies and which no one has ever been able to prove, has led to Aamer spending years in detention, a stretch of incarceration that has led him, in despair, to embark on a life-threatening hunger strike. So far detainee US9SA-000239DP has endured 68 days without food, far beyond what is accepted as safe. Clive Stafford Smith, his British lawyer, concedes that for the first time Aamer, widely regarded as a robust and resourceful character, has started to raise the possibility that he might die inside Guantánamo Bay. He recently told Stafford Smith, who is director of the legal charity Reprieve, to brief his wife that he might not make it out alive after all. The hunger strike began because the guards disrespected the Koran again, but it’s about much more than that now. It’s about the fact that they told Aamer six years ago that I was cleared to leave, and return to my wife and four children, but here I am, still in Guantánamo. It’s about the man in the cellblock with him who is in a wheelchair, or would be if they had not taken it from him as a punishment for striking. It’s about the man who got so desperate that he tried to kill himself. Aamer’s continuing incarceration is bizarre given that the Americans ruled almost six years ago that he could be freed from Guantánamo. In June 2007, he was officially cleared for release. A security assessment by the US government acknowledged it had no concrete evidence against him. Two years later, the Obama administration reiterated the lack of a case against him, underlining the fact that he could be released. So why is Aamer the only one among the 16 detainees who possessed British citizenship and residency who is still being held in Guantánamo? Officially, the British government insists it is dedicated to extracting the father of four, a position it has publicly adopted for the past six years. Last Tuesday, the Foreign Office’s human rights report of 2012 reiterated that it was committed to secure Aamer’s release and return. His case, it said, had been raised on multiple occasions, including direct pleas from the foreign secretary, William Hague. The situation is such that Aamer is starting to suspect the regime at Guantánamo Bay is trying to kill him through medical neglect. Simultaneously, the strain on his family is starting to mount.
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state has been boycotted by Western governments for 10 years over his involvement in the Gujarat massacre in 2002. According to the reports published by Human Rights Watch, Citizens for Justice and Peace and many other NGOs during the massacre more than 2,000 Muslims were killed, 150,000 displaced and over 800 women and girls were raped. Further, according to these reports Narendra Modi provoked the massacre and was complaisant with the killing of the Muslims.
The UK’s high commissioner in India has met Narendra Modi recently and ended the boycott. This angered the British Muslims who were ‘shocked’ and ‘dismayed’ with the decision of the Foreign Office. One of these groups was the Council of Indian Muslims (U.K.) who wrote an open letter to urge Foreign Secretary William Hague to review Britain’s decision to “engage” with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The letter said:
“We are particularly disappointed because no consultation was done with British Indian Muslims in general and in particular the families whose members were butchered by Modi’s foot soldiers… We really find ourselves at a loss and have no words to express our utter disappointment, frustration and therefore very humbly request you to review your decision.”
29 August 2012
According to the Pakistani weekly Friday Times, al-Qaeda has recruited two Somali students to carry out a suicide attack in the Hague. De Telegeraaf reported based on a Dutch intelligence source that the threat is “serious” , while a spokesperson for the Dutch embassy in Pakistan told the Friday Times that they were working closely with Pakistani counterparts to eliminate such threats.
21 June 2012
Negotiations over the place of a group of Iraqi asylum seekers in the Netherlands continue. Immigration Minister Gerd leers and his Iraqi counterpart Shafiq Duski met in the Hague this week and will again meet in Baghdad in September. The Netherlands offered a fund of 5.5million euros to Iraq to reintegrate failed asylum seekers, on the condition that Iraq cooperate in the repatriation process. Minister Duski will consult with Iraqi parliament on the issue, but prefers a phased return for the asylum seekers, as Iraq reportedly would have difficulty coping with the large numbers of repatriated individuals. The negotiations arose after asylum seekers from Iraq and elsewhere established a protest tent camp near Ter Apel.
31 March 2012
Sheikh Fawaz al-Jneid has been suspended from the Sunnah mosque in The Hague for at least three weeks after allegedly insulting board members and disturbing a meeting. In an interview Sheikh Fawaz commented that he does not intend to abide by the mosque’s injunction and accuses the board of trying to prevent him from speaking on political matters during Friday prayers. Meanwhile a lawyer acting on behalf of the mosque board has provided a letter proposing measures to curtail Sheikh Fawaz’s authority within the mosque.
Sheikh Fawaz Jneid (1963) was born in Syria, trained in Saudi Arabia and became an imam in the United Arab Emirates. He left the UAE after protesting the presence of American troops in 1991, and arrived in the Netherlands where he became one of the primary figures in the Dutch salafist movement. Jneid is affiliated with the As-Soennah mosque in The Hague and is prominent at a national level for his political activity, but is not linked to violence. He has been at the center of several controversies which have received considerable attention in the national press, including his condemnation of Theo van Gogh and Hirsi Ali.
30 January 2012
The Islam Democrat Party in the Hague has clarified that it does not want to ban dog ownership in the city. During a debate one week earlier fraction head Hasan Kucuk commented that he found it ‘pitiful’ that dogs are sometimes shut in an apartment for 23 hours a day, leading to speculation that the party wanted to introduce a ban on dog ownership.
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”.
30 October 2011
Following tensions last week between Turkish and Kurdish communities in Amsterdam, Turks demonstrated peacefully in The Hague on Sunday. The protest was under tight security; some 200 riot police watched the gathering, though wearing no helmets and minimal gear. Organizers had predicted 4,000 participants, but estimates of attendance are placed at between 500 and 700 individuals.
In an event separate from the rally, a dispute between members of the two communities resulted in the arrest of two pro-Turkish demonstrators.