August 11 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carried a feature this week of several sites created to cater to the needs of young Dutch Muslims seeking “to combine Islam with living in a secular country like the Netherlands”. Featured websites include Polder Mosque, an online mosque for young people which treats Islam as part of Dutch society, and Maroc.nl, a popular discussion platform for Dutch-speaking Muslims. The RNW coverage emphasizes the confusion which can result from the many voices represented in the busy marketplace of internet forums. Mohammad El Aissati, founder of Maroc.nl, suggests that an authoritative voice emerging from the fray would most likely belong to “an imam who speaks Dutch, understands the questions of young Muslims in the Netherlands and advises them via the internet, the digital Mecca of this generation.”
The Associated Press releases a profile this week of Yassmine el Ksaihi, leader of Amsterdam’s Polder Mosque. At age 24 she is the administrator of the large mosque. AP reports that in appointing a woman to this position, conducting sermons in Dutch, welcoming non-Muslims, and bringing men and women together for prayer (thought they remain segregated), the Polder Mosque is an example of a search for “if not a European style of Islam, at least grounds for coexistence with European norms”.
Amsterdam’s liberal “Polder Mosque” may close due to financial problems. The mosque is facing 50,000 euros in rent arrears to be paid by March 1, 2010. The financial problems are exacerbated by high running costs and a refusal to accept foreign money to keep the mosque open. The mosque opened its doors just 18 months ago, and is known for practicing exclusively in Dutch and for allowing men and women to pray together.