4 March 2012
Following the resignation of Labour Party (PvDA) leader Job Cohen, five candidates are vying for leadership of the party in the Netherlands. One of the five is Turkish-born politician Nebahat Albayrak. Albayrak moved to the Netherlands as a baby. Her successful political career includes service as a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party from 1998-2007, when she became the Netherlands’ State Secretary for Justice. (2007-2010).
The public prosecution will not deal with a complaint by State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma against the Helmond Foundation of Muslim Schools (Stichting Islamitische Scholen Helmond). Dijksma claims that the school administration wrongly spent over 900, 000 euro in subsidies. The claims came following Dijksma’s report to parliament last year which claimed that 90% of Muslim schools are misusing subsidy money. In the case of the Helmond Foundation, Dijksma claims that subsidy money has been used for self payment and compensating “phantom workers”. Prosecution recognized that the money was not spent as intended, but that it was not used for purposes of “grave self enrichment”, Trouw reports. The State Secretary says that she will respect the decision.
The Amsterdam city council and the national government will reduce funding for the As Siddieq Islamic school, which has three locations in Amsterdam. The school faces cuts because it has ‘failed to meet agreements on citizenship and social integration’. State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma said she is reacting to a critical report by the government’s Education Inspectorate which found that the As Siddieq school is not doing enough to integrate its pupils in society. In addition to the move by the national government, Amsterdam education councilor Lodewijk Asscher withdrew the municipal subsidy to As Siddieq. He has lost confidence in the school board, he told board members in a town hall meeting.
As Siddieq drew attention earlier this month when Hennie Metsemakers, a former teacher who was suspended by the school a year and a half ago, publicly claimed that the school encouraged children not to integrate and treated non-Muslim teachers as inferior.
State Secretary of Social Affairs and Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has said that he thinks it is “absurd” to propose that Christian holidays of Easter Monday and Pentecost Monday ought to be replaced with Muslim holidays. Aboutaleb added that such Christian holidays have been embedded in the Dutch calendar, and cannot be touched.
He does, however, support introducing a separate Islamic holiday, and that it ought to be an extra free day for all. Aboutaleb does not foresee this as a possibility in the immediate future, noting that there is significant conflict about the integration of foreigners at the moment, but added: “we are currently in a transition phase, a changeover phase. When that is over, we could discuss it.”
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Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch)
Social Affairs State Secretary Ahmed Aboutaleb will succeed Ivo Opstelten as the mayor of Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands. Aboutaleb is a member of the Labour party, and has been nominated by the local council to seat the position. He has both Moroccan and Dutch nationality, and is known for combining his Muslim faith with a political style that is characteristically Dutch. The appointment, of the first Muslim nominated for a mayoral position, still needs to be formally confirmed by the home affairs ministry.
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Al Qaeda has begun an online propaganda campaign, targeting German-speaking Muslims with increasing amounts of terror-related content, German security officials have told CNN. And while there is no evidence of specific plans against Germany and Austria, German State Secretary of the Interior August Hanning has said he is worried that the authorities “will not be able to thwart all terror plots in the future.” Jihadist videos obtained by CNN, and narrated and subtitled in German, call on German-speaking Muslims to join the “Holy War” against what they call an “American led coalition against Islam that Germany and Austria are a part of. CNN has also seen excerpts of what German intelligence officials say is a 16-hour long, professionally produced bomb-making tutorial. Watch report on the terror videos.
The Islamic secondary school in Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam is refusing to pay back the 1.2 million euro that the State Secretary Van Bijsterveldt withdrew from the school. Nass, the furious school president said: We’re not going to pay that amount back. I’m giving nothing back because it’s not spent. We’ll fight this till the highest judiciary. Van Bijsterveldt is requesting that the money be returned, because it was spend on tangential issues including trips to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, and salary for two imams whose affiliation to the school is being question. The education inspection could not prove that fraud had been committed, but says that something appears amiss at the school. The school administration, however, believes that the school is being unfairly targeted, saying there’s clearly no place for Islamic education in this country.
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.