Saturday, February 11, 2006

What is going on in this country?

Originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

"Flying in the face of a centuries-old commitment to freedom of religion, of conscience, and of expression, The Netherlands is about to prohibit Muslim women from covering their faces in public. Should this legislation pass, and apply to the whole of the public sphere as the Dutch parliament desires, it will constitute one of the most restrictive responses to Islamic clothing both in Europe and beyond*."

This is the Netherlands which used to be proud of its tolerance and progressiveness, which allows the sale and smoking of soft drugs, marriage open to same sex couples and legal euthanasia.

How times have changed. By listening to political opportunists like the awful Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the absurd Geert Wilders, the very stupid minister Rita Verdonk and her party think they can make political capital by passing a law which affects just 50 people. For it is only 50 people who wear the burqa, it seems.

It turns out that The Netherlands is the most anti-Muslim of all European countries, according to some research. This may be to do with the fact that a lot of publicity was given to an imam who said that gay people should be thrown off the highest floor of appartment blocks and because there was the nasty murder of the provocative Theo van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam not too long ago, by a Muslim extremist. However, if there had been any decent political leadership in this country, maybe these incidents would not have turned people so anti-Muslim.

The only good thing to be said, is that at least no-one produced any silly little cartoons in this country and that that was left to the Danes, who by the sounds of it are not a whole lot better. Also, the law has not been passed, so maybe in the light of the reaction to the cartoons, the Dutch parliamentarians will decide not pursue such a provocative and silly law.

* well, it seems that our friends in Italy were here first as in 1975 they passed a law banning the covering of a face in public and then in 2005 dramatically increasd the fines for breaking this law. This latest move has been seen by many as being specifically targeted against Muslim women wearing the burqa.


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