RNW Press Review, Friday 18 July 2008

18th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

18 July 2008

Imams from Morocco stir up controversy
Plans to send seven Moroccan imams to the Netherlands for the Muslim fast month of Ramadan (in September) have led to angry comments in the Dutch parliament.

The Moroccan government's announcement that the imams would help fight radicalisation did not go down well with Christian Democrat and Labour MPs.

De Volkskrant quotes CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg who says "It is unheard of that seven people are commissioned by a foreign power to come here to solve so-called problems." The CDA wants the cabinet to intervene before the imams get on the plane.

Labour spokesman Jeroen Dijsselbloem says Morocco should stop its "paternalistic behaviour" and "allow the Moroccan community in the Netherlands to decide for itself what kind of imams it appoints".

In an editorial, the conservative newspaper De Telegraaf comments on plans by the Moroccan authorities to send more than 170 imams to Europe and Canada. Their sermons are meant to keep believers from listening to radical Islamists.

"Although this helping hand may appear sympathetic, it is nothing more than interference from the authorities in Rabat, who consider the Moroccan community in Europe as their 17th province."

The paper writes that besides protecting believers from radical colleagues, the imams also see to it that Moroccans abroad remain loyal to their roots and traditions and that this is at odds with Dutch attempts to integrate immigrants.

De Volkskrant interviews the interim chairman of the newly formed Federation of Moroccan Imams, Yassin Elforkani, who does not understand all the commotion.

He says Morocco has been sending imams to the Netherlands and other countries for Ramadan for many years.

The spokesman for Amsterdam's Moroccan mosques, Khalil Aitblal says he agrees with Labour MP Dijsselbloem's comment that Moroccans should decide themselves what kind of imams they appoint.

He says the Moroccans' mosques usually invite imams from Morocco to the Netherlands during Ramadan.
Dutch investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
NRC Handelsblad writes that the Netherlands is the world's ninth-largest investor in the US mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The US government took action to help prevent the collapse of the two corporations in July.

The Netherlands has EUR 16 billion in investments in the two enterprises, including 11 billion held by the largest Dutch pension fund ABP.
Preserve rural character around Utrecht
De Volkskrant reports that the city of Utrecht has received the support of surrounding communities in its determination not to build more than 7,000 homes in the Rijnenburg polder.

Earlier this month the Utrecht provincial government announced that if necessary it would force Utrecht to build up to 20,000 homes in Rijnenburg to help solve the housing shortage in the province of Utrecht.

The provincial government says that Rijnenburg "is the only remaining location for large-scale construction".

The city of Utrecht says it does not want another enormous suburb like Leidsche Rijn. It says this would lead to "uniformity" in the area surrounding the city. "This polder should preserve its rural character. The housing shortage should be solved by building inside the city."

Five surrounding suburbs are supporting Utrecht. They say that the construction would lead to "more traffic jams on the already overcrowded roads in the vicinity".
Massive bee deaths get hearing
Nrc.next interviews Hans Ouwejan, who set up a firm called Climate Innovation Platform three years ago.

Following alarming reports about massive bee deaths in the Netherlands, Ouwejan wrote a letter to parliament and managed to receive a hearing with a Dutch parliamentary committee.

He was surprised that he got a hearing. "Isn't it great? Democracy works!"

Ouwejan believes that reports of the death of bee colonies, called Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been going on for 20 years is a foreboding of a coming catastrophe.

Albert Einstein predicted that if the bee dies out humans would only last four years. "Without bees, no pollination. No pollination, no animals. No animals, no people."

Ouwejan says that bee colonies died out in 20 US states in 2007 and now it is happening in Europe.
Ouwejan thinks the bee deaths may be caused by pollution and climate change, though he does not rule out the theory that the bees' navigation system has been disturbed by mobile phone use.

In any event, the Agricultural Ministry has ordered a study following new reports of bee deaths on the island of Texel.
It's 10pm. Do you know where your cat is?
 De Volkskrant interviews Wilfried Peezenkamp, owner of an electronics firm and creator of WP cat, a cat backpack with a GPS (Global Positioning System).

After some of his cats came back with injuries he thought there might be a cat-beater in the neighbourhood and decided to devise a system which would allow him to follow them online.

"I look where they are on the computer in the morning and at night. During the day they don't move much. My mother lives down the road and she can follow them via internet.

“She even stays up at night for it. . .If one of my cats gets into trouble I can go there right away. Maybe I'll be too late, but then at least I know what happened."

He still doesn't know what caused the injuries, but thinks that animal traps set in the neighbourhood might have something to do with them.

Peezenkamp is planning to market his cat GPS towards the end of the year for around EUR 150. He knows there are GPS collars on sale for EUR 34 on a German website, but these only let you see where the cats were after they have returned. "With my system you can see where they are at all times."

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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