8 January 2012
Considerable press attention has followed an appearance by Queen Beatrix and Princess Maxima in long robes and head coverings during a visit to the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. The Queen tucked a blue headscarf around her hat at the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque as part of the 50th state visit of her reign. Both she and Princess Maxima donned long gowns. Their dress prompted considerable press attention in the Netherlands, of both praise and critique.
Members of the PVV raised the issue in parliament, suggesting that the Queen’s dress legitimized the oppression of women. In an unusual move, the Queen publicly responded to the criticism, calling it “utter nonsense”. According to the NRC it is unusual for the Queen to publicly react to politically sensitive issues such as this. She further said that she had no problem complying with Islamic dress as a mark of respect to the space she visited. Supporting the Queen’s assertion that there is no question of oppression for many women in the United Arab Emirates, Princess Maxima noted that it is rather the region’s young boys who may be at risk.
18 November 2011
A large scale project in the Netherlands, entitled Hoofdboek, aims to provide an overview of the lives of Dutch Muslim women wearing the headscarves. The project will involve a book, survey, traveling exhibition and social media platform. The National Headscarf Survey component of the project has been conducted by Motivaction and interviewed some 1570 participants, both Muslim and non-Muslim Dutch women. The results, presented in Hoofdboek, indicate that 60% of Dutch Muslim women elect to wear a headscarf for reasons ranging from its reflection of the wearer’s identity to fashion; women begin wearing the headscarf at an average age of 19. Close to 75% of those not wearing a headscarf said they might do so in the future. In terms of fashion, the average woman has a wardrobe of 34 scarves, and style is an increasing consideration in their selection. Respondent said they would like to see high profile Dutch women including Queen Beatrix, Yolanthe Sneijder-Cabeau or, most popularly, Princess Maxima, wear a headscarf once.
THE HAGUE – One was a Somali refugee, the other an Argentine investment banker. Both are now high-profile Dutch women challenging this country to rethink its national identity. Princess Maxima, the Argentine-born wife of Crown Prince Willem Alexander, triggered a round of national soul-searching with a speech last month about what exactly it means to be Dutch in an age of mass migration. “The Netherlands is too complex to sum up in one cliche,” she said. “A typical Dutch person doesn’t exist.”
The appointment of two Muslim politicians to the new Dutch cabinet has reawakened a row in the country over dual nationality. Nebahat Albayrak and Ahmed Aboutaleb are both Dutch passport holders, but also have Turkish and Moroccan passports respectively. Right-wing opposition parties want to see an end to dual nationality. The row has led to a call for Princess Maxima, the wife of the Crown Prince, to give up her Argentine nationality. Ahmed Aboutaleb, from Morocco, is the State Secretary for Social Affairs in the new cabinet. Nebahat Albayrak is Turkish and becomes the State Secretary for Justice. Lowered popularity They are the first Muslims to reach the heart of Dutch politics. The opposition right-wing Freedom Party has objected to the new centrist government being allowed to have members with dual nationality. The outgoing right-wing Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, said Princess Maxima, who is married to the heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem Alexander, should give up her Argentine passport. Opinion polls show the row over dual nationality has lowered the popularity of the new government. But Ahmed Aboutaleb is credited with helping immigrants to find jobs as well as pushing for more integration.