Liberals to rein in 'anti-Islamic' MP

11th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

11 December 2003, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Liberal VVD party has moved to stop its outspoken MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali from waging a solo campaign against Islamic schools in the Netherlands. The Somali-born politician had to hide out in the US temporarily in 2002 when her life was threatened due to her criticisms of Islam.

11 December 2003

AMSTERDAM  — The Dutch Liberal VVD party has moved to stop its outspoken MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali from waging a solo campaign against Islamic schools in the Netherlands. The Somali-born politician had to hide out in the US temporarily in 2002 when her life was threatened due to her criticisms of Islam.

Liberal-Christian daily newspaper Trouw reported on Thursday that VVD officials have been annoyed by what they say is Hirsi Ali's "solo runs" on the controversial issue of the beliefs and practices of Muslim immigrants living in the Netherlands.

VVD leader and Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has indicated that he wants to see a halt to the creation of additional Islamic schools in the Netherlands, but Hirsi Ali has been accused of pushing the issue publicly without clearance from the party.

Hirsi Ali was brought up as a Muslim in Somalia, but has attacked Islam for repressing women.

In an interview with Trouw in January this year, Hirsi Ali described Islam as "backward" and the Prophet Mohammed as a "perverse tyrant".

"Mohammed is, judged by Western standards, a perverse man. A tyrant. If you don't do what he says, things won't go well for you. That makes me think of megalomaniac dictators in the Middle East, Osama Bin Laden, Ayatollah Khomeini and [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam Hussein."

She also said by modern standards the Prophet Mohammed had been perverse to marry a 12-year-old girl.

More recently, Hirsi Ali has added her voice to growing criticism of Islamic schools in the Netherlands. The schools have been accused of fostering intolerance and preaching anti-Western doctrines.

But a report by the government's schools inspectorate found, in contrast, that Islamic schools often contribute to integration into Dutch society. The report also disagreed with claims that the standard of education provided by Muslim schools is far below that of other schools in the Netherlands.

Banning Islamic schools is a particularly thorny in a country where the freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution. The VVD's main partner in the centre-right government coalition is the Christian Democrat CDA party.

The CDA is worried trying to block Islamic schools could lead to a restriction on all religious education, including Christian schools.

In 2002, populist politician Pim Fortuyn made it politically acceptable to question the country's multicultural policies and he was the first to say publicly that Islam was backward. 

The VVD hoped to benefit from this growing unease about Muslim immigrants by recruiting Hirsi Ali shortly last year. She had resigned from her post as researcher with the Labour PvdA party after accusing Labour of being soft on Islam.

But now Trouw reports that VVD officials are increasingly unhappy by Hirsi Ali's contribution to the debate about the integration of immigrants.

She is accused of deliberately seeking confrontation by making very controversial remarks and by not sticking to the party line.

Her recent comments about banning Islamic schools have led to senior VVD politicians contradict her in the media. She did however receive the backing — public at least — of most of her other colleagues.

But VVD parliamentary party secretary Jan Rijpstra confirmed to the newspaper that the parliamentary grouping was unhappy with the way Hirsi Ali seemed to be making unsanctioned statements.

Rijpstra is also the chairman of the party's immigration and integration commission, which was set up in response to earlier public statements by Hirsi Ali.  She is to be told that in future her public comments must conform to the VVD's agreed policies and be sanctioned beforehand by the commission.

Political commentators will be watching closely to see if Hirsi Ali will tailor her media performances to tow the party line or whether differences on the issue will come to a head in the New Year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch News + Islamic Schools

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