19 April 2012
Turkish President Abdullah Gül has completed a three day state visit to the Netherlands to commemorate 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey. The visited included a state banquet in Amsterdam in which Queen Beatrix praised Turkey as an “inspiration and example” and stressed the history of peaceful relations between the two countries.
Gül’s visit has raised objection from the country’s Freedom Party (PVV) in the form of disparaging comments that “Islamist Gül complains about tolerance”. Representatives from other parties distanced themselves from the criticism, as Labour Party MP Frans Timmermans commented that “The cabinet is being taken hostage by [PVV leader] Wilders”. Further, one member of the PVV resigned from the party in embarrassment to show his disapproval of the comments and the party’s national policies. Gül’s response named Wilders as an Islamophobe whose “extreme voice… feeds radicals”.
Commemoration of the diplomatic anniversary continues, with the Rijksmuseum opening a new exhibition entitled “Modern Turkey”. And the Dutch Queen will return the state visit with a trip to Ankara and Istanbul in mid-June, her first visit to the country since 2007.
Lord Ahmed, 53, who in 1998 became the first Muslim life peer, was reported to have made the comments at a conference in Haripur in Pakistan.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.”
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper Lord Ahmed offered the bounty in response to a US action a week ago.
The US issued a $10 million reward for the capture of Pakistani militant leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, who it suspects of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died as terrorists stormed hotels and a train station.
The British peer reportedly said: “‘If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the (capture) of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10 million (for the capture of) President Obama and his predecessor, George Bush.”
4 March 2012
Following the resignation of Labour Party (PvDA) leader Job Cohen, five candidates are vying for leadership of the party in the Netherlands. One of the five is Turkish-born politician Nebahat Albayrak. Albayrak moved to the Netherlands as a baby. Her successful political career includes service as a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party from 1998-2007, when she became the Netherlands’ State Secretary for Justice. (2007-2010).
17 June 2011
In a letter to the Dutch parliament, Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner has requested an end to government policies which target integrating ethnic migrant groups in the Netherlands. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports the move is a part of the cabinet distancing itself from multicultural society as a concession to the Freedom Party (PVV), which is supporting the current government. The Labour Party and democrat party D66 fear that this proposed shift is a ‘historic error’. Donner is also advancing a proposal to prosecute for forced marriage and to ban facial covering in public.
20 May 2011
During a parliamentary debate anti-Islam politician and leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders accused the Labour party of filling the country with “Islamic voting fodder”. Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer left the chamber in protest of the offensive remarks. Prime Minister Rutte called the term ‘inappropriate’. Wilders made the remark during a discussion about the provision of financial aid to Greece.
7 February 2011
After Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the model of multiculturalism at state level has failed, a heated debate has sprung up. Tariq Modood writes a fervent plea for multiculturalism and shows some of the many examples of where it is already in practice. The Independent reports of attacks from Muslim groups and the Labour Party on the Prime Minister, who is said to be “livid” about the reactions. The BBC gives a feature of what different parties of the debate and academics understand by “multiculturalism”, while the New Statesman calls Cameron’s remarks cynical, but also shows disappointment with the Labour Party’s response. The Financial Times and a Daily Telegraph blog acknowledge the importance of the Prime Minister’s speech as a warning against Islamic extremism.
Hugely excited about Britain’s first televised party leaders’ debates, the British media have paid limited attention to the vicious electoral battle being fought in the East London borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Yet the outcome of the general and local elections there on May 6 could have troubling consequences, not least for Britain’s 2.4 million Muslims. For it is in Barking and Dagenham that the leader of the far right British National Party, Nick Griffin, has a fighting chance of winning what has long been a safe seat for Britain’s governing Labour Party.
In Dagenham, as throughout Britain, the whole issue of immigration has never been more emotive. But it is Muslims, portrayed as the “enemy within” bent on Islamizing Britain, who are the chief target of the BNP. From the Muslim perspective, the desirability of voting for the Labour Party to keep the far right out seems clear. Yet such is Muslim disaffection, especially over British foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, that many Muslims appear disinclined to vote at all. Alarmed by the possibility of a triumphant BNP, prominent Muslims are backing a campaign in Dagenham, “Hope, Not Hate”, aimed at mobilizing the Muslim vote. Jewish businessmen, mindful of the threat posed to the Jews of East London by the fascist black shirts led by Oswald Mosley in the 1930s, are backing it, too, for the BNP’s historic anti-Semitism is manifesting itself anew in the area, with Margaret Hodge, who is of Egyptian Jewish parentage, being vilified on grounds of both her race and wealth.
Dutch parliament member Samira Bouchibti has reacted to the release this month of Imhalal.com, a search engine which provides starred ratings of results according to their acceptability in Islamic law.
The PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) parliament member says that the new engine should not be used in schools, since it encourages discrimination of gays by filtering out search terms such as ‘homo’ and ‘gay’. She says young Muslims should also have access to information about sexuality and homosexuality. Bouchibti has asked the Minister of Education Ronald Plasterk (PvdA) to check whether ImHalal.com can be kept out of schools and other institutions which are funded by the government.
The site attracted more than 30,000 visitors in its first eight days, says Reza Sardeha of the AZS Media Group in the Netherlands. The developers explain that the search engine allows Muslims access to the internet in a safe and clean environment.
Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin is considering whether measures against ‘Islamic marriage’ ought to be introduced. Islamic weddings in the Netherlands are generally unofficial, non-government sanctioned ceremonies based on Islamic law. Contracts in Islamic marriages are not legally recognized under Dutch law. As such, there will be no alimony if a couple divorces, and an Islamically bound spouse is not automatically eligible for inheritance if one member of the marriages dies. Labour Party politicians have repeatedly expressed concern that such religious weddings may be forced for some, and may involve polygamy. Ballin condemns the practice, and said that he is not ruling out future criminal proceedings for people who enter into Islamic marriages (without making the marriage legal under Dutch law).
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Pronouncements by politicians and religious leaders are again spotlighting the cultural divide between the Muslim community and the rest of British society. This time, the issue is people who marry their cousins. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William suggested last week that the adoption of some form of Islamic law was “unavoidable” _ a remark that sparked protests from commentators and politicians who said Muslims must abide by British law. Then, as that furor subsided, two governing Labour Party lawmakers called for a frank discussion of the health risk posed by Pakistanis who marry their cousins. Lawmakers Phil Woolas and Ann Cryer, citing high rates of birth defects, said Britons must question the practice of arranging marriages between first cousins. Both warned of grave public health consequences if the custom continues.