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.
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.
4 September 2011
A concert attended by Dutch Queen Beatrix was interrupted by a man who walked on stage to announce “I’m sorry. In the name of Allah the merciful. I’m sorry. This is not the way.” He then announced that he was Jesus Christ, assured the audience he did not have a bomb, and called upon those present to convert to Islam. The Queen remained seated throughout the disturbance while security escorted the man from the stage. An Amsterdam resident, he is well-known to the police for causing disturbances at several public gatherings.