Dutch City Offers Advice and Haircut to Immigrants

September 8 2010

The SVB (national insurance agency) in the Dutch city of Utrecht is offering Turkish and Moroccan immigrants an explanation- in their native languages -of the welfare payments for which they can apply, together with a free haircut. The program engaging “welfare hair-dressers” and targeting elderly immigrants is being test run in Utrecht but may soon spread to other cities. The SVB wants to promote the supplementary pension payments available, as some 15,000 eligible have not claimed their rights to these benefits.

“Silent Majority”of Dutch Muslims Waking Up

A conference in Utrecht this week, organized as part of the MultiFestijn Festival, explored “whether the unease about Islam in the Netherlands is due to a lack of leadership”, Reformatorisch Dagblad reports. Abdulwahid Van Bommel, a translator and guest lecturer at the University of Groningen, spoke at the conference and identified a sense of unease about the presence of Islam in the Netherlands. He suggested that the “silent majority” of the Muslim community should take a stronger role in leadership within Islam in the country.

Children of Dutch immigrants less religious than their parents

A survey conducted by researchers at the University of Utrecht reveals that children of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants to the Netherlands practice their religion less rigorously than their parents. The overwhelming majority still see themselves as Muslim. The results stem from a survey of 2000 members of the Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch communities and published in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, measuring how “vibrant” religious feelings and practices were between the two generations. The younger generation scored lower on both counts.

Other results from the report include the observation that highly-educated Turks and Moroccans describing themselves as Muslims practice their faith more than the lower-educated, which is exactly the opposite among the first generation. Finally, the research suggests that the assimilation of immigrant groups in the Netherlands will take “several generations.”

Persecuted for my Qur’an

The Egyptian philosopher and theologian Nasr Abu Zayd, participated at the event “The Dialogue Among Cultures” organized by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations the 2nd of March in Pisa, Italy. Abu Zayd proposes a humanistic interpretation of the Qur’an challenging the fundamentalist and dogmatic interpretation of the holy book. Due to his position, he had to abandon Egypt and move to The Netherlands where he teaches at the university of Utrecht. Abu Zayd’s thesis is that the Qur’an is not just a text, but mainly a plurality of discourses that need to be interpreted. The Qur’an, from his point of view, is a recitation and, as such, it was originally addressed to a multiplicity of recipients and is constituted by a plurality of voices. Moreover, it encompasses different types of discourses: dialogical, polemic, exclusive, inclusive and many others. He claims that overemphasizing the divine element brought to the preponderance of the literal interpretation in light of which many historical decisions were taken for divine injunctions. He defends the human dimension incorporated in the structure of the Qur’an and, consequently, a humanistic hermeneutics of it. Adopting this perspective will demonstrate to Muslims that issues such as modernity and democracy should be discussed independently from theological or juridical limit. At the moment, he is committed in setting up a net of people, intellectuals and not intellectuals, devoted to encourage autonomous thinking in the Muslim world.

Woman in burqa denied entrance to Utrecht clinic

A Muslim woman was denied entrance to the examination room at a Utrecht first aid clinic because she was wearing a burqa.

The 23-year old woman visited the clinic with her three month old baby on Christmas day. Reports indicated that the doctor was willing to treat the baby with the father but would not allow the mother to be present in the examining room.

The clinic has announced that it regrets the incident and is investigating what happened.

Dutch man sentenced to community service for offending Muslims

A 60 year old from Nieuwegein (Utrecht) was sentenced for insulting Muslims Friday. The court in Utrecht gave him forty hours of community service and two weeks suspended sentence, Trouw reports. The man was also charged for threatening a member of the Amersfoort city council.

In February 2009 the man turned his back on the Muslim woman who attempted to serve him at a pharmacy. He said he thought it was revolting to look at ‘them’, referring to Muslims, public prosecutors claimed. The court decided that ‘offending a group based on religion’ had been demonstrated in this case.

Teachers complain woman refuses to shake hands

An administrative worker at the School for Journalism in Utrecht has sparked resentment among some teachers. The woman, who greets male teachers with a hand over her heart rather than shaking hands, has been working at the position since September. Some teachers have lodged a complaint regarding the practice. Trajectum quotes teacher Michiel Smis saying he feels discriminated: “Purely because of the fact that I’m a man she refused to shake my hand.”

Désirée Majoor, head of the Communication and Journalism Faculty, says in response that the employee reported her behavior regarding men before her job interview. She is well qualified for the position and has a pleasant and open attitude. “There is no issue here that she avoids contact. She only chooses to greet men differently. That does not impede her functioning.”

Turkish/Moroccan Girls in Netherlands Do Not Seek Help for Assault

Trouw reports on an announcement by the UMC Utrecht that it will offer special services for Turkish and Moroccan girls and young women who have experienced sexual attacks. According to the National Psycho-Trauma Center for Children and Youth, these girls rarely seek professional help. None of the 250 assaulted and raped girls between 13-15 years old who turned to the center in 2005 was of Turkish or Moroccan origin, though sexual violence is as common among this group. The National Psycho-Trauma Center will visit schools, community centers and mosques at the beginning of the school year in order to bring Turkish and Moroccan girls who have been raped to the center.

Mohammad and Sara Most Popular Baby Names in Three Dutch Cities

Mohammed remains the most popular name for boys in three Dutch cities, according to the government authority responsible for tracking the names of newborns. Mohammad is the most popular boy’s name in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, and in Rotterdam ranks as the second most popular, after Jayden. Sara – also popular among Muslims – tops the list for girls, followed by Emma and Sophie. However, at a national level, Daan remains the most popular baby boy name, whilst Mohammed does not even reach the top 20. Among girls, Emma ranks first in the national top-20, with Sara ranking at the 14th place.

Nursing home to open Moroccan department in Utrecht

A Utrecht nursing home for the elderly plans to open up a ‘Moroccan department’ in its facility later this summer. The nursing home, located in the neighborhood of Overvecht, will open up spots for twelve Moroccan elderly who are in poor health. The department will cater to cultural and religious sensitivities of its residents, and will include offering Moroccan TV, and making halal meals for its residents. Activities will also be adapted for the needs of the Moroccan residents. According to the nursing home’s owner, Aveant, there is great need for such a department in the local Moroccan community, and for facilities to cater to special consideration of the background and customs of its residents. Experience with Moroccan elderly shows that many do not feel at home in a regular nursing home, but Aveant is hoping that with more sensitive accommodations, it will provide a more home-like atmosphere for aging Moroccans, and to employ personnel who know the language and culture of its residents.