November 28 2010
An orthodox Christian primary school in the Hague, capital of the Netherlands, banned a substitute teacher this week because she was wearing a headscarf. Orthodox religious schools in the country are privately run but receive federal funding. According to the head of the school, strict rules on all non-Christian religious clothing and attributes were instituted seven years ago.
The GSC Esdo football club in the Hague is facing controversy following what former members have called a “Moroccan coup”. 52 ethnic Dutch members left the club after
a general members meeting in which an almost completely Moroccan board (except for one member) was elected, due to a massive turnout by Moroccan members.
Former board members claimed that the atmosphere of the club has changed completely since the appointment of the new board. The board confirms that four
teams have resigned from the club. Secretary Mohamed Talhoui commented, “Why they’ve gone, I don’t know, but maybe they didn’t feel comfortable any more at the club”.
While the far right Freedom Party (PVV), headed by Geert Wilders, came in second in municipal elections in the Hague last month, their position on the headscarf has prevented them from forming a ruling coalition. The party is insisting on a headscarf ban in municipal buildings, a condition which no other party will accept in forming a coalition. The party came second in the municipal elections, winning 16.8% of the vote and eight of the 45 municipal council seats. However, given its insistence on the headscarf ban, officials no longer consider it a possible coalition party.
Right wing PVV (Freedom) Party leader Geert Wilders announced that a ban on headscarves for city council workers and in all institutions and clubs receiving local authority support will form the basis of negotiations during governing coalition talks in the upcoming months.
Wilders made the comments during a lengthy speech in Almere, one of the centers of support for his party. The ban will not apply to other religious items such as Christian crosses and Jewish skull caps, Wilders claims, because they are symbols of Dutch culture. Dutch News reports that the speech received a standing ovation.
The Islam Democrats (ID) party, which has held a seat on the Hague municipal council since 2006, has denounced the municipality’s decision to cancel gender segregated swimming used mostly by Muslim women. City officials made the decision on the basis that men and women should meet while exercising, while supporters of the separate swimming have denounced the decision as “symbol-politics”.
On September 8 police in The Hague found a doll depicting Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders hanging from a tree near the central station. The doll had a picture of Wilders affixed to it with a knife, and smeared with a substance intended to look like blood. Police arrested four individuals aged 18-19, students from the Hague art academy. Two of them have since been released, according to Trouw.
The first year student who made the doll explains that he wanted to respond to the position of Muslims. He feels they are “in a manner of speaking, being hung from the highest tree”, Telegraaf reports. According to the maker, the photo of Wilders has nothing to do with the politician as a person, but symbolizes the movement he stands for.
Dutch opposition party SP has asked the government to prevent training institutions from implying that they grant university degrees. Seven institutions of the Hague have recently been registered by the Chamber of Commerce. At the Free University in the Hague all teaching is in Arabic, and students obtain training in various subjects including political science, philosophy and law. However the Netherlands does not recognize their diplomas as university degrees. Parliament has asked the government to make “university” a protected title to clarify the
granting of degrees. Minister Ronald Plasterk has promised to investigate.
On Friday, Muslim nations condemned the film ‘Fitna’ which accuses the Quran of inciting violence, and Dutch Muslim leaders urged restraint. Iran called the film heinous, blasphemous, and anti-Islamic. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation and former Dutch colony, said that the film was an insult to Islam, hidden under the cover of freedom of expression. The Saudi Arabian embassy in the Hague said that the film was full of errors, incorrect allegations, and could lead towards hatred of Muslims. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the film.
Education, Culture, and Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk is hoping that Muslims would take a similar view to that of many Dutch Christians, in that everything in their holy books ought not to be taken literally. Citing the Bible’s creation stories and his own Catholic upbringing, Plasterk is encouraging Muslims in the Netherlands to have an open world-view. “If you have to take everything literally, you go mad in our times. I therefore wish Muslims the same as what happened with Protestants and Catholics he said. Plasterk made the comments in the Hague’s caf_ during a dialogue in intercultural issues.
By Carla Power When Famile Arslan showed up for her first day of work, the receptionist pointed her toward the broom closet. “‘The cleaning supplies are over there,'” Arslan recalls being told. “I had to say, ‘No, I’m not the cleaner. I’m the lawyer.'” In fairness to the receptionist, Arslan was making history that morning, as the first attorney to wear a hijab in the Netherlands. Ten years on, she has her own practice in the Hague. Her name’s on the door, her cat Hussein pads around and a veiled assistant fields phone calls. “People keep telling me how successful I am,” says Arslan. “But I’m not all that successful. Had I not been a migrant woman in a hijab, I could have gone much further.” Still, when younger Muslims ask Arslan how to climb the professional ladder, she’s optimistic. “If you think strategically, this is a great time to be a European Muslim,” she argues. “Everyone’s focused on us, so it’s an opportunity – if you take it.”