RNW Press Review – Friday 28 March 2008
A roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.
28 March 2008
NRC Handelsblad reports on a survey of youths of Dutch, Turkish and Moroccan origin. The study finds that there has been a dramatic change in self-perception among youths of foreign origin since 1999. For instance, in 1999 more than half of Turkish youths said they spoke “very good” Dutch. In 2007, the figure had dropped to just over a third. Among Moroccans, the number of those who said they spoke very good Dutch dropped from more than 70 percent to around 50 percent.
NRC Handelsblad points out that the number of 18 to 30-year-olds who had been born in the Netherlands had increased in this period and Turkish and Moroccan youths “most probably” spoke better Dutch than eight years previously. Sociologist Han Entzinger of Erasmus University in Rotterdam says the explanation lies in the youths’ self-perception - their surroundings are placing higher demands on them and “they are also placing higher demands on themselves”.
Another finding is that indigenous Dutch youths have become move negative towards people of foreign origin, a tendency which is strongest among people with the lowest levels of education. However, the newspaper writes that Turkish and Moroccan youths who reject their surroundings are more likely to be those who have studied the most. The survey found that one of the biggest differences concerned religious belief. More than half of Dutch youths said they had no religion, something which is almost unheard of among Turkish and Moroccan youths.
In arms over carillon
De Telegraaf writes that “the carillon in the city of Weesp, whose chimes ring a melody every 15 minutes 24 hours a day, threatens to become the inset of a court case.” Residents united in a group called ‘Carillon 16 hours’ are complaining that the chimes prevent them from sleeping.
De Telegraaf reports that the chimes of the Grote Kerk have long been a source of dispute and the town is now separated into two camps. On the one side are mostly older residents who point to the cultural and historic value of the chimes. However, many people who live near the church in the historic centre of Weesp say they cannot sleep at night. “A piano concert by Mozart is beautiful, but not if your neighbour plays it at three in the morning.”
Release of Fitna
“A sense of relief over the ‘mildness’ of Fitna” is de Volkskrant’s front-page headline, a feeling which more or less sums up the reaction of the Dutch press to the anti-Qur’an film of populist politician Geert Wilders. “Wilders’ film is a lot less extreme than many had feared. No pages were torn out of the Qur’an, nor was the holy book set on fire. Most of the political reactions were negative, but there were many who breathed a sigh of relief.”
AD’s headline reads: “The movie Fitna gets a mild reception.” The paper reports that “Muslim organisations and experts say the film is less shocking than they had expected.” Trouw leads with the headline: “Fitna offends but does not surprise”. The paper reports that the Public Prosecutor’s Office will investigate the film. But the general drift of the reactions is that the film remains within the law and “could have been worse”.
Only the mass-circulation De Telegraaf covers the movie’s release in a sensationalist manner. Its front-page headline is in capital letters: FITNA HAS BEEN RELEASED. The paper reports that “with his Fitna film Geert Wilders has put into picture what he has been proclaiming in words for nearly four years: Islam is a ‘fascist ideology that threatens democracy’.”
In an editorial, de Volkskrant describes the movies as “an anti-climax”. The newspaper says Fitna is “a hardline propaganda film … which in every respect uses the same methods as those used by radical and totalitarian regimes to turn ethnic groups against each other.”
De Volkskrant writes that Wilders’ message is that Muslims can only be fully-fledged citizens by ripping up the Qur’an. “This viewpoint must be repudiated. The Netherlands is not under the spell of a violent Islam and it is not ‘five to twelve’ as Wilders would have us believe. With Fitna Wilders has done a disservice … to the integration of Muslims in Dutch society.”
Trouw’s editorial reads: “Wilders’ film does not leave Muslims any room to become allies.” According to Trouw, “The strength and at the same time weakness of his film is that he has summarised his call to battle solely in a series of fear-provoking images.”
By focusing on the fight against the Islamisation of society Wilders is spreading the message that “all Muslims are suspect”. The newspaper concludes that “if Wilders has offended anyone … then he’s offended the moderate Muslims. His film does not give them any room to become allies in the fight against the rough edges of Islam.”
De Volkskrant reports that the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who has been threatened by radical Muslims because of his caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, is angry that Geert Wilders used his cartoon in Fitna. The cartoon shows the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb under his turban. The film Fitna begins with the cartoon and ends with a revision of the same cartoon, showing the bomb going off.
Mr Westergaard has accused Wilders of theft and the violation of copyright laws. The Danish cartoonist says he would not have given Mr Wilders permission to use his cartoon had he asked. Mr Westergaard, who says the Danish secret service has told him his life is in danger, lives in hiding. In February, three men were arrested for planning to kill him. With the release of the film Fitna, the 72-year-old cartoonist fears the threats against his life will increase.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]