18 February 2012
Islamic scholar Haitham al-Haddad participated in a public debate in Amsterdam cultural center De Balie following the decision by Amsterdam’s Vrij Universiteit (VU) to cancel his planned appearance. The controversial cleric had been invited to the VU by the Islamic Students’ Association, but the event was cancelled following protests from MPs.
After the VU cancelled the initial event, al-Haddad appeared instead in a public conversation at cultural organization De Balie, at a round table including MP Tofik Dibi (Green Left) and prominent journalist Kustaw Bessems, and others. During the debate al-Haddad reaffirmed the extreme sentiments upon which his controversial reputation is based, including commenting during the question period that apostates should be killed in a Muslim country. Dutch media coverage of the event included discussion regarding whether or not al-Haddad had made inflammatory and anti-Semitic statements on public record.
The full debate is available on YouTube. See also previous coverage on the cancellation of the VU debate.
16 February 2012
Amsterdam’s Free University (VU) has cancelled a debate organized by the Islamic
Student Union of Amsterdam, which was to see Haitham al-Haddad, a controversial
Saudi-born scholar living in London, in conversation with Yasser Ellethy of the
Centre for Islamic Theology. The subject of the debate was the role of the Muslim
scholar in the west.
Al-Haddad has faced criticism for making anti-semitic remarks, including reportedly
describing Jews as ‘the enemies of God and the descendents of apes and pigs’. The
Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), opposed his presence
in the Netherlands and requested that the VU rescind the invitation. MPs from the
country’s Freedom Party (PVV) and Christian Union Party urged the government to
bar al-Haddad from entering the Netherlands.
The VU initially continued with plans for the debate but cancelled the event on 16
February, following complaints from Jewish students.
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.
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.
August 7 2010
Trouw reports that the way Muslims in the Netherlands celebrate Ramadan is changing, according to social scientists at the University of Amsterdam and the VU University in Amsterdam. Rituals which were previously internal to the community have come to adapt to the Dutch environment and engage the non-Muslim Dutch.This shift, according to Professor Gerard Wiegers of the University of Amsterdam, is “part of a process of institutionalizing Islam in a Dutch, secular environment”.