Dutch News in brief, Wednesday 28 January 2009

28th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

Female genital mutilation on the rise

Female genital mutilation is again in the news, with today’s newspapers reporting that Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker is threatening to jail parents of girls who are circumcised while on vacation. De Volkskrant writes that “Foreign-born parents who travel to their native countries will have to sign a contract pledging that they will prevent their daughters from being circumcised. The measure affects parents from high-risk countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. If upon returning their daughters are found to have been mutilated they will receive a prison sentence.”

Enormous pressure to circumcise daughters

De Volkskrant reports that France already requires parents from high-risk countries to sign a contract. Minister Bussemaker believes the measure is effective. “Relatives often place parents under enormous pressure to circumcise their daughters. This kind of contract is necessary because it gives them clear-cut evidence that they will be prosecuted if they cooperate (with the circumcision).”

Double glazing for everyone

De Telegraaf leads with the cheerful headline “Double glazing for everyone”. Well, maybe not for everyone, but in any event for a lot of people. The news concerns a proposal by Liesbeth Spies, MP for the largest governing party the Christian Democrats. If the proposal is accepted, 250 million euros will be spent to insulate 1.5 million homes with double glazing. Ms Spies says the measure would help counteract some of the effects of the credit crisis by maintaining employment in the construction sector and helping the country to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

"Idiotic ticket tax"

However De Telegraaf is none too happy with another environmental measure— the environmental tax introduced at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in July of 2008. Passengers must pay 11.25 euros extra for every flight to a destination in Europe and 45 euros for an intercontinental ticket. The Netherlands is the only country in Europe with such a tax, which makes flights from Schiphol more expensive than from terminals in other countries. The newspaper writes: “By introducing the idiotic ticket tax, the cabinet has skilfully pushed Dutch aviation into an abyss . . . Passengers are not only chased away from Schiphol, but a large number of them are also profiting from lower tariffs in Belgium and Germany. It doesn’t seem to bother politicians that people end up travelling extra kilometres by car and by plane. . . The mess left by failing bankers is cleaned up with taxpayers’ money, while the government leaves an entire sector out in the cold.”

An alternative to ‘white’ TV

A heading in the NRC Handelsblad reads: ‘Everyone on TV is white,’ “which is why we need the new broadcasting corporation Zenit.”’ Zenit’s logo is in the Roman alphabet as well as Arabic. However according to Zenit’s chairman Radi Suudi the station is not only for Muslims. “We want to make TV for everyone who is fed up with the way the media portray multicultural society and Muslims.” One of the members of the committee sponsoring the new broadcasting corporation – which has to sign up 50,000 members by the 1st of April, is Telegraaf columnist Funda Mujde. She says that while watching a Dutch show, she thinks: “The panel is white, the public is white and the presenters are white. That is why we need Zenit.”  According to Zenit’s website: “The cities of the Netherlands are bristling and stirring and are becoming more and more a mix of different influences and nationalities. But Dutch TV still acts as if it is 1960. As if everyone’s name is Jan Smit and comes from Volendam. As if every person of colour or with a foreign name is a threat or problem.”

In a way I am happy

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded that a man who called emergency services and reported a plot by al-Qaeda to hijack a plane be sentenced to two years in prison and a year’s suspended sentence. De Volkskrant writes that the suspect, a drug addict named Coco, wanted to prevent a woman he was in love with from flying to Turkey with her boyfriend. In August 2008, he called emergency services and reported a terrorist plan to hijack a Transavia flight and gave the names of the hijackers—the woman and her boyfriend. Because the flight number and the names he gave coincided with the passenger list, the anti-terrorism team decided to take the matter seriously.
The plane, which was just about to take off, was sent to another part of Rotterdam airport. After waiting two hours in the August heat: “The pilot understood that he had more to fear from unruly passengers – who wanted to open the plane’s doors themselves – than from al-Qaeda. After six nerve-wracking hours the two were taken off Transavia flight HV 207 by an arrest team and detained for several days on suspicion of terrorism. A man who sat next to them in the plane and was chatting with them was also considered a terrorist.” The judge asked the suspect if he regretted his actions. “In a way I am happy. My girlfriend ended up staying. And since I’ve been locked up for six months I’m off drugs.”

Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/Expatica

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