14 November 2011
Preceding the parliamentary elections to be held in Egypt from 28 November, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the VU University Amsterdam have launched an online ‘vote compass’. The site presents respondents with multiple choice questions as a means for determining which political party best represents their interests. The test was compiled through analysis of official documents and the stated views of the parties or statements made by their leaders. The Egyptian version of the Vote Compass site, which is not affiliated with any political or government body, also involves several Egyptian collaborative partners, from al-Jazeera to Cairo University.
31 October 2011
In advance of parliamentary elections in Morocco on 25 November, in which the king will transfer his governmental authority to a prime minister, Dutch organizations have created an online ‘Vote Compass’ for the country. The Compass, available in French and Arabic, enables participants to respond to a series of questions, indicating which of the competing political parties’ views most closely reflect their own. The Compass was created by the Free University of Amsterdam and was launched in association with Radio Netherlands Worldwide; it has no links to any party, candidate or government body.
7 October 2011
Hassan Bakir, secretary general of Moroccan Islamist group Shabiba Islamiyya, was arrested in Spain while on vacation with his family, and detained for the past two months while Spanish courts rule on is possible extradition to Morocco.
Bakir had been living in the Netherlands since 2005. In 1985 at the age of 18 Bakir was sentenced to death in absentia for his political activities in Morocco. Following a 20 year exile from Morocco in Libya, he was granted political asylum in the Netherlands, now teaches at the Islamic University of Rotterdam. Bakir’s arrest in Spain acts on the 1985 conviction; he faces the death penalty if extradited to Morocco.
Bakir has publicly stated that he is disappointed with support he has received during the detention in Spain, as well as condemning newspaper reports labeling him a terrorist.
On 7 October newspapers reported that Bakir has fled back to the Netherlands from Spain in advance of potential extradition to Morocco. Radio Netherlands Worldwide quotes legal expert Bart Stapert’s opinion that, while Morocco can request that the Netherlands extradite Bakir, the country “will not do that because he has political asylum here.” Stapert further hypothesizes that while Bakir has criticized the lack of response from Dutch atuthorities, “behind the scenes they have done a lot more for him.”
16 September 2011
In coverage of the burqa ban making its way through the Dutch cabinet, Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries an article about Rachid Nekkaz. The French entrepreneur has established a million-euro fund in France to pay the fines of women wearing burqas, which in the Netherlands will cost 380 Euros. Mr. Nekkaz, a Muslim with an Algerian background, thinks the bans violate European constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, and announced that his organization Touche Pas a Ma Constitution will also help Dutch women if the ban is introduced.
2 August 2011
Several media outlets note the start of Ramadan and its influence for the daily lives of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad. Although for the past six years the country has celebrated Ramadan with a festival designed to counter stereotypes about Muslims and build relations with non-Muslims, the events will not occur this year. In the past the festival involved sponsored iftar dinners, which “local authorities no longer have the budget to fund”. Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a photographic overview of Ramadan, and notes that “people in the Middle East are experiencing this year’s Ramadan in quite a different way” given unrest in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt.
10 July 2011
A doctoral student at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU) has investigated the attitude of European countries towards headscarves and concluded that ‘national ideas about religion and ethnicity play an important role’. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports on Doutje Lettinga’s thesis and summarizes her findings that women wearing the headscarf are being ignored in the heat of political debate.
14 July 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a feature on upcoming elections in Egypt this fall, describing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country as ‘the party to beat’. It follows the attendance of two party representatives at a workshop, given by the Dutch consultancy bureau BKB at the Dutch embassy, which was based on discussing election campaigning. The feature describes the Muslim Brotherhood as transitioning from underground movement to political party; representative Al Abadi’s notes the techniques for photographic campaigning learned. RNW notes the success of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2004 and increasing organization and recognition, but also that the organization “has some way to go before working openly”
30 June 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide provides a feature commentary on proposals by the leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), Geert Wilders, to cut immigration by 30% over the next four years. The article considers whether the country is leading the way as pioneer in restrictive immigration laws as a part of the European vanguard, or whether, as EU Commissioner Malmstrom suggests, it is a ‘lone wolf’ choosing a populist policy at the expense of EU norms.
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.
June 10 2011
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a profile of Omeed (a pseudonym), a 27 year old Dutch Muslim homosexual. Omeed, whose parents immigrated to the Netherlands from Pakistan, says that being Muslim and homosexual was not something he regarded as problematic. “I was and still am a believer but I also knew that Allah made me this way.” Omeed notes that while he is an exception in the Dutch Muslim community, more and more gays and lesbians are ‘coming out partially- i.e. carefully, to a very select circle of friends and- in some cases- family members’.