Dutch news in brief, Friday 5 September 2008

5th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

5 September 2008

Amsterdam Mayor visits ambulance service
Both De Telegraaf and AD have photographs of Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen on their front pages.

The mayor visited the offices of the Amsterdam ambulance service after staff held a walkout following threats against paramedics who came to the assistance of a Moroccan boy who was stabbed.

According to de Volkskrant, an angry group of relatives and youths threatened ambulance staff. One of them said: "If my little brother dies, you will die too".

The driver of a mobile medical team helped keep the crowd at bay while the ambulance driver and his paramedic put the victim in the ambulance and drove off.

In a reaction, Mayor Cohen said, "Aggression against aid workers is unacceptable. This problem with Moroccan hoodlums must be solved.  

Cohen has proposed a number of measures, including anonymity for aid workers who file reports and engaging in dialogue with the city's Moroccan community.

In parliament, the Labour Party has proposed fitting ambulances with surveillance cameras.

Christian Democrats break promises
De Volkskrant reports that the Netherlands largest union for the elderly, the ANBO, accuses the Christian Democrats (CDA) of breaking their 2006 election promise never to touch old age pension benefits.

The present coalition government intends to raise taxes for elderly people who saved up a pension fund of more than EUR 18,000.

The ANBO, which has a membership of more than 350,000, says this group of pensioners "has already paid for its old age benefits".

Back in 2006, old age pensions was one of the main subjects in the election campaigns. Former Christian Democrat party leader Maxime Verhagen said elderly people would have to fear for their pensions if Labour won the elections.

When Labour leader Wouter Bos, the current finance minister, softened his pension reform plans, the CDA accused him of being a 'twister'.

However, when the CDA later joined Labour in a coalition government, they were forced to make concessions.

Deputy party chair Liesbeth Spies says: "It is true, this was never part of our election programme... but we stand by our signature under the coalition agreement".

She promised she would "cast a very critical eye" on the cabinet proposals as soon as they were submitted to parliament.  

MPs accused of pressuring judges
Today's Trouw writes about leading lawyer Hendrik Gommer, whose doctoral thesis was published Friday.

In his thesis, Gommer accuses MPs of abusing their power to raise their profile at the expense of suspects.

According to the lawyer, suspected terrorist Samir Azzouz "was convicted by parliament".

MPs were outraged by his initial acquittal. "They literally said they would keep changing the law until he was put behind bars.

Eventually the judge had no option but to apply the new law, after which Samir Azzouz was convicted on the basis of new evidence.

In individual cases, a judge should make the final decision.

However, Gommer also says that it is important that politicians should criticise the judiciary, because it forces judges to properly motivate their rulings.

The lawyer draws the line at influencing ongoing trials by changing the law.

"Politicians should not try to take over from judges".

Half a million houses to be built
AD reports that the government has presented its vision for the future of the main urban conglomeration in the west of the country.

The cabinet says that at least half a million new houses should be built in the region in the period until 2040.

Most of these new houses are to be built within current city limits, which will only be possible if old, small industrial estates are demolished.

The cabinet wants towns to start sharing industrial estates, and designate new areas for housing, mainly in the Haarlemmermeer polder, Almere and near de Zuidplaspolder and Valkenburg.

New roads will be built in the urban conglomeration and public transport will be improved. The high-speed rail link between Amsterdam and Paris will branch off to Frankfurt and Cologne.

In the cabinet's vision, Amsterdam should raise its profile as a metropolis to attract international companies in establishing their head offices, while Utrecht is to become the knowledge and IT city of the urban conglomeration.

Polder mosque opens doors
nrc.next has a report on the new 'Polder mosque' in the west of Amsterdam.

The polder mosque is a concept intended for moderate young Dutch Muslims, who according to the paper, "do not feel at home with old Arab-speaking imams. It is time for a mosque for the second and third generations".

The new mosque, located in a former office building in the Slotervaart district, is intended for young, well-integrated, ambitious Muslims of all nationalities, who want to hear a sermon in Dutch.

At the polder mosque, men and women can choose whether they want to pray together or separately, as in traditional mosques.

The concept is also intended to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.  

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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