Mosque in the middle

The Rotterdam department of political parties Christenunie (Christian Union) and SGP (Reformed Political Party) organized a debate on integration in the Essalam mosque in the city, the biggest mosque in the Netherlands. One of the invitees was conservative and former PVV (Party for Freedom – known for its harsh criticism on Islam) Bart Jan Spruyt.

Adjunct-director Jacob van der Blom received a lot of angry messages. How could he allow this in a mosque?

But he believes that connection can only occur from within people themselves. When you work with organizations and politicians subsidies play a big role and they make achieving the purpose (almost) impossible. Van der Blom wants to facilitate conversations, without telling people how they should do this exactly.

He thinks he is the right person to facilitate this conversations. As a convert to Islam he knows both the Islamic as the Rotterdam community very well. After the attacks in Paris he opened the mosques doors for these conversations. But besides that, he wants to contribute with the mosque to the neighbourhoods well-being. However according to him religion is not the way to connect people: “Muslims pray with Muslims and Christians pray with Christians”. This is why, for example, he wants Muslims to help in retirements houses and that people will eat together in the mosque.
He doesn’t want to ‘create’ perfect Muslims, but decent human beings.

Gultepe Mosque in Rotterdam receives threat letter

The Gultepe Mosque in northern Rotterdam received a threat letter this week. Part of it reads: “You can’t trust anyone anymore, so leave now, when you’re still able too. Because death is in your mosques.” And: “You are the most ungrateful and disgusting people in the world. Your own your own schools, shops and butchers, because the Netherlands don’t seem to be good enough for you cockroachers. We’re done with it. Leave if you want to stay alive. Everyone hates you. You can’t trust anyone anymore.”

The mosque’s chairman doesn’t want to react on the issue. But there has been made a report with the police, who has start an investigation.

A Muslim in the city of The Hague also received a threat letter this week. The letters seem to be a consequence of the attacks in Paris.

Increase in cases of radicalization in Rotterdam.

This year 29 cases of radicalization have been reported, compared with 20 in 2013 and 16 in 2012, so there has been increase. According to the major, Ahmed Aboutaleb, this doesn’t mean that more youth become radicalized, but persons are more alert.

The newspaper had an interview with Aboutaleb, in which he says that the term ‘jihadism’ can be explained in different ways, but it is problematic when it is characterized by ideas of racism, discrimination or not being able to find a job (in the Netherlands), although religion seems to be the most important factor. The mayor also says that if people reject [the foundations of] the Dutch society, they can leave, but also should hand in their passport.

X-Factor Sensation Jordi to jihadist camp

Jordi, who seven years ago participated in X Factor is in prison, suspected of taking part in a terrorist-training in Syria.
Once Jordi dreamed of becoming a star. But he converted to Islam, became an orthodox Muslim and a career in music was no longer an option.

By his neighbours he was seen as a friendly neighbour. When his neighbour teased him, calling him ‘Bin Laden’, Jordi would just wave friendly.

But in 2013 he went to Syria, leaving his wife and son. Three months later Jordi returns. Parents ask information about their sons and daughters who went to Syria and his neighbours don’t want him anymore. He friendly avoids talking to journalists. He wants peace. And he goes living secretly in Rotterdam.

Dutch Public Servant Fired for Informing on Mosque Schools

October 31, 2013

 

The Rotterdam public servant who told journalists that Mosques run illegal boarding schools has been fired by the city council with immediate effect.

Based on confidential documents and interviews, NRC Handelsblad reported last year that mosque boarding schools exist in Rotterdam among other locations which had no licence to have children stay overnight. Fifty girls were living the attic of one of these mosques. The government carried out no supervision of these schools.

The public servant who tipped off the newspaper received a letter of dismissal on Monday in which he was accused by the city council of “serious dereliction of duty.” The letter also says he created a “feeling of unsafeness” at the municipal organisation, by “recording and distributing an internal meeting.”

 

NIS News- http://www.nisnews.nl/whistle-blower-on-illegal-mosque-schools-sacked.html

Euro-Islam summary for original story: http://www.euro-islam.info/2013/05/22/alleged-mosque-boarding-school-revealed-in-rotterdam/

Update: Dutch Court Jails Man for Plans to Fight in Syria

October 31, 2013

 

Last week, Nos television reported that a Dutch man had been jailed for planning to travel to Syria to take part in armed resistance against president Assad. Ignition fuses, aluminum powder and instructions for making explosives were among items found in his home.

The Rotterdam district court ruled that making preparations to travel to Syria, including buying a plane ticket and collecting funds, can be seen as preparation for murder and is punishable by law. The ruling is significant for the public prosecution of the Netherlands because until now there has been no jurisprudence on the issue, and this ruling will have implications for others planning to travel to Syria for similar purposes. The Public Prosecutor’s Office publicly commented on its support of the verdict.

In addition to jailing one man for a year on these grounds, a second man has been sent to a psychiatric hospital for the same intention. Mohammed G. collected money, cancelled rent, packed bags, and read ‘Jihadist texts’ as preparation for fighting in Syria. However, the man suffers from psychoses and will not receive a sentence but rather must go to a psychiatric hospital.

 

Dutch Newshttp://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2013/10/dutch_jail_man_for_preparing_t.php

NIS News: http://www.nisnews.nl/court-rules-preparing-for-jihad-is-a-crime.html

Comments by Rector of Islamic University Rotterdam Draw Attention

October 18, 2013

 

The rector of the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) has become the target of press attention after publishing an article stating his views on various aspects of Islamic practice for Sunni and Alevi Muslims and his perspectives on current political events in Turkey. The publication appeared on the personal website of rector Ahmet Akgündüz in Turkish. It has been summarized in Dutch and English news sources in the Netherlands with considerable variation.

Newspaper Trouw notes that Akgündüz states the impossibility of dialogue with anyone who does not adhere to the six principles of faith and five pillars of Islam, and that it is not permissible to intermarry with or eat food slaughtered by some Alevi Muslims. According to Trouw, he further opposes the building of a Sunni-Alevi mosque complex nearby Ankara.

The English publication NIS news claims that Akgündüz’s publication calls opponents of Turkish Premier Erdogan “enemies of Islam”. Their quotation of Akgündüz’s statement that stoning is “one of the prescribed punishment within Islam” is amplified as material for the headline of their article “Islamic University Dean Supports Stoning”.

The unclarity over Akgündüz’s position and the controversial article prompted attention from the Dutch government, with members of the Liberal (VVD), Labour (PvDA), and Christian Democrat parties citing concern about the article, primarily due to the role of the Islamic University of Rotterdam in training Imams in the Netherlands.

In response to the controversy, the IUR has issued a press release stating that it stands in solidarity with the rector, emphasizing his academic qualifications and asserting that the views he presents in his writings are sufficiently neutral and not politically motivated. The press release also asserts that the statements in the media misquote Akgündüz’s position, directly contradicting the quoted positions regarding the acceptability of marriage to or eating meat slaughtered by Alevi Muslims.

Conversation in the press, and clarifications of Akgündüz’s position, is ongoing.

 

 

Personal website post of Ahmet Akgündüz (Turkish)- http://new.ahmetakgunduz.com/?p=112

NIS News (English)- http://www.nisnews.nl/islamic-university-dean-supports-stoning.html

Trouw (Dutch)- http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/5091/Religie/article/detail/3528817/2013/10/17/Rector-Islamitische-Uni-dialoog-met-niet-moslims-is-onmogelijk.dhtml

Press release IUR (Dutch)- http://www.nieuwwij.nl/nieuws/iur-onjuiste-berichtgeving/

Islamic Secondary School in Rotterdam to Close

10 September 2013

Ibn Ghaldoun School, the Rotterdam secondary school which was the focus of an exam theft earlier this year, is to lose its government funding and close down. According to Sander Dekker, the Netherlands’ Junior Education Minister, the closure is based on a recommendation from school inspectors.

The school has financial difficulties, and according to Dekker, almost 80% of its upper school teachers do not have sufficient levels of Dutch or educational qualification.

The school was the scene of an exam theft in May 2013, when it emerged that 27 national exam papers had been stolen and distributed to students.

Two years ago, Amsterdam’s only Islamic secondary school was also closed due to standards and financial difficulties. The country has some 40 Islamic primary schools.

Hofstad Group Member to be Released from Prison

30 August 2013

 

Samir Azzouz, serving a nine year sentence for terrorism in Rotterdam, is to be released on 6 September. He will have served two thirds of the sentence. Azzouz was a member of the “Hofstad Group”, and was jailed for preparing attacks on targets including politicians and the head office of the AIVD secret service.

The Public Prosecutor requested a one year delay in Azzouz’s release, on the basis of poor behavior in prison and continued “radical Islamic convictions.” Azzouz was re-arrested in his cell in 2012 under suspicion of planning another attack. The judge rejected the request due to a lack of plan from the Public Prosecutor proving how the danger of repetition would be reduced by an extension of Azzouz’s time in prison.

Islamic Centre in Rotterdam Financed by Saudi Arabia

17 August 2013

 

A new Islamic centre is to be built in Rotterdam, thanks to a gift of 650,000 euros from the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. According to Karnis Gacha, director of the Netherlands Sociocultural Centre Foundation, the Islamic centre will offer space for 4,000 people, and will include a library. 500,000 euros of the Saudi contribution is to go towards purchase of the 2,500 metre site.