Dutch news in brief, Monday 22 June 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Dutch elite has 'learned nothing'
The growth of populist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim parties, and complaints that the ‘establishment’ has lost touch with the common man have long been major themes in the media and Dutch politics. In today’s de Volkskrant—a left-wing newspaper whose readership includes the backbone of what remains of the Labour Party—a former party activist writes that the Dutch elite has learned nothing from the rise of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and is making the same mistakes today.
“There are large similarities between the way in which the established parties are now dealing with (Freedom Party leader) Geert Wilders and their previous attitude towards Fortuyn,” writes former Labour campaign worker Jacques Monasch.
“The frightened elite is again warning that different communities are being played off against each other and that Wilders, just like Fortuyn, is dangerous and that the Freedom Party is instilling fear in people’s hearts. But is Wilders the danger?… Wilders is receiving the reproach that he does not offer solutions for the problems he brings up."
Monasch lists a number of problems which have arisen in past years and which have caused "a great deal of indignation":
"Golden handshakes and exorbitant salaries for the managers of housing corporations. Extremely large classrooms in which teachers have lost their positions of authority…The problems caused by the privatisation of homecare for the elderly. The enormous problems in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The increasing inequality in incomes (between the rich and the poor) since the 1990s.”
She goes on to write that all of these problems have a common factor: they have been created while the established parties were in office and have not been solved. Monasch also writes that Wilders mentions problems with groups of immigrant youths and large-scale immigration, such as that of ‘import brides.’ Nearly everyone agrees with him, but the message of the established order is “crystal clear… We are not allowed to discuss it, let alone do anything about it.”
Labour loses following attack on Freedom Party
De Telegraaf reports that Immigration Minister Eberhard van der Laan’s offensive against the Freedom Party has not helped his party (Labour) in the polls.
Since last week, Labour has lost a seat in the polls (now down to 18), while the Freedom Party is still in first place; the anti-Muslim party would rise to 31 seats in the 150-seat parliament if elections were held today. Van der Laan has criticised the Freedom Party’s views on integration and has challenged Wilders to a debate.
Integration minister allows separate classrooms for men and women
Today’s nrc.next includes a biting commentary by mathematics teacher Yvonne Killian on a decision made last week by Integration Minister Van der Laan to provide separate classrooms for men and women taking the mandatory integration course “even if it contradicts our golden value that men and women are equal.” He reasons that, otherwise, many Muslim women might not show up for the course.
Killian writes “More and more often it is accepted without question that certain women do not allow men nearby in hospitals, airplanes, theatres, classrooms or in a queue—and they get their way… Creating schoolrooms without men already conflicts with all the principles of the integration process, but giving integration lessons in such a setting is absurd. Have you ever heard of giving the good example, Mr Minister?”
Wilders calls for emergency debate on Iran
Free newspapers Spits and Metro are both celebrating their tenth anniversary. They are also the only newspapers to report that Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders has called on the Dutch parliament to break all relations with Iran. “Our country must also recall its ambassador from Tehran and should expel the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands.”
Bruno goes gay in Amsterdam's Red Light District
The free newspapers Spits, Metro and De Pers all write about British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s visit to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The former Ali G and Borat is now appearing as the gay Bruno in his latest film.
One of his more recent stunts saw him descending like an angel and then display his legs and butt in the face of white US rapper Eminem who is known for his anti-gay comments. In the Red Light District, Bruno joked “For much too long men from all over the world have come to Amsterdam to have sex with women.”
Bruno then ‘officially’ opened the Pink Light District, with men playing the role of male prostitutes 'plying their wares' in windows, as has long been the case with real female prostitutes. The joking continued as he said that one of the male prostitutes was unavailable because Geert Wilders had booked him for the week.
Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica