Dutch News in brief, Monday 26 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.Political capital for Freedom Party
The leader of the rightwing Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, is again in the news. Last week’s decision by the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam to prosecute the MP for “offending” those of the Muslim faith has gained him potential votes.
De Telegraaf reports that in the latest opinion polls the Freedom Party has risen to 20 seats (now nine) in parliament, which together with the opposition conservative VVD party - which also has 20 seats in the polls - would make it the country’s third largest. This is a gain of three seats in one week.
In an editorial, the mass-circulation De Telegraaf argues that the “curious” decision to try the Freedom Party leader on charges of discrimination and sowing hatred has elicited a good deal of emotion. “Other Western countries are surprised by the court’s ruling. The Netherlands has a good name to uphold as far as free speech is concerned. The ruling contradicts this principle. Is freedom still worth anything in the Netherlands if a politician can no longer register his concerns about the position of religions in relation to our standards and values?”
AD gets slap on the wrists
The AD got itself in the news by reporting on Saturday that the US-born Muslim preacher Khalid Yasin had said in a speech that Wilders should be “punished in a traditional manner” and be “lashed with a whip”. Trouw writes that “On the basis of the newspaper report, the Freedom Party demanded that Yasin be arrested or expelled from the country.”
However, following protests from the controversial preacher the AD admitted that it had made a mistake in the Dutch translation of parts of a speech he gave in Rotterdam. What Mr Yasin really said was that Wilders deserved a “judicial slap on the wrists”.
Netherlands should help with Guantánamo
In today’s editorial, the left-wing de Volkskrant praises US President Barack Obama’s decision to close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. The paper says that while there is evidence against some 80 prisoners, there are around 170 who are no longer considered ‘enemy combatants’ or against whom there is not enough evidence to go to trial. “The US authorities would like to release a substantial number of them, but are unable to send many back to their home countries because they would be in great danger.”
De Volkskrant writes that while some European allies are willing to take in former prisoners, most, including the Netherlands “take the view that the US should clean up its own juridical mess”…”However, with all the outcry which has – deservedly – been made concerning the injustices in Guantánamo, it would be too politically expedient to shout ‘It’s your own fault’ and look the other way.”
'Green Booklet' in Papiamento
Education Minister Omayra Leeflang of the Netherlands Antilles met recently with members of the Dutch Language Union, a collaboration between the Netherlands, Belgian Flanders and Suriname on linguistic issues, language policy, language teaching and literature for many years.
She asked them to include a number of words from Papiamento – the official language of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles – in the next edition of the Groene Boekje (Green Booklet), which is the official list of the correct spelling of Dutch words. Trouw writes that the union will look into which words are most suitable. “However, they must be words which are frequently used.”
The paper reports that there was a lot of criticism of the education minister in the parliament of the Netherlands Antilles after she proposed that Dutch be made the first language in the country’s schools instead of Papiamento. She told the newspaper: “I was accused of wanting to return to the times before the abolition of slavery.” Minister Leeflang says the inclusion of words from Papiamento in the Green Booklet: “Would give Antillians the feeling that Dutch is their language as well.”
The Netherlands Antilles has a cooperation agreement with the Dutch Language Union, but is not yet a member. Surinam joined the union in 2005. “Then Surinamese-Dutch words such as zwamp (swamp) and pinaren (to have troubles) were included in the official list of words.”
Vagina ad raises consciousness
A television ad by Lactalyd (Femina Daily Protective Wash – for the external vaginal area) has disappeared from Dutch TV after a week. The AD newspaper writes that the Advertising Code Authority said it had received “a large number of complaints in a short period”. The ads showed “what the female genital organ has to go through daily”. “A bicycle saddle, a razor blade… are all seen from the perspective of the vagina.” Jeanette Timmerman, spokeswoman for Lactacyd, told AD: “You don’t see anything.” She says other ads show explicit nudity, which is nowhere to be seen in the Lactacyd ads. Ms Timmerman says that in any event the ads led to “discussion” and “consciousness-raising” among women.
Radio Netherlands/ Frank Scimone/ Expatica