RNW Press Review - Friday 29 February 2008
A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.* RNW Press Review - Friday 29 February 2008 - by Frank Scimone
De Volkskrant reports that the Taliban in Afghanistan are threatening to step up attacks against the 1,600 Dutch soldiers in Uruzgan if the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party Geert Wilders broadcasts his film criticising the Qur'an. According to de Volkskrant, a senior spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, who often calls press agencies in Afghanistan to read a statement, described the film as 'an insult to Islam'.
* An hour of intimidation
NRC Handelsblad writes about a meeting between Mr Wilders, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. The justice minister warned Mr Wilders of 'the legal consequences' if the film turns out to be 'discriminatory' or 'spreads hatred'. The minister told him that an MP only enjoys immunity for comments made during a meeting of parliament. The foreign minister warned the populist leader 'about the commotion in Muslim countries and the possible economic and political consequences for the Netherlands'. The newspaper also writes that Mr Wilders has registered a website - www.fitnathemovie.com - in the United States. This week the Pakistani authorities blocked the YouTube website following a rumour that a trailer to the film could be downloaded from the site.
* 'Fitna' the movie ready today
De Telegraaf writes that Minister Verhagen has made a public appeal to Mr Wilders not to broadcast the film 'now that the indications are piling up that the film will have serious consequences for our country in Muslim lands'. The minister says broadcasting the film would be 'irresponsible'. De Telegraaf reports that the film will be ready today. However Mr Wilders is still looking for a TV station which is willing to broadcast the 15-minute film. The paper also writes that the Cairo International Film Festival for Children has removed the Dutch entry in protest against the Wilders film.
* Publicity detrimental to mental well-being of Joran van der Sloot
AD reports that Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in the 2005 disappearance of the American teenager Natalee Holloway on the island of Aruba, has suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of all the publicity from the case and has let himself be committed to a psychiatric institution. The AD bases its report on an article in the Aruban newspaper Bon Dia. 'According to the Aruban newspaper, he's become psychologically unbalanced by all the commotion in the media as a result of the statements he made on the secret camera planted by crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.' The AD writes that the crime reporter's two-hour-long programme, which was broadcast at the beginning of the month and viewed by millions 'was detrimental to Joran van der Sloot's mental well-being.'
* Poles remain in the Netherlands for a short period
De Volkskrant reports that although there are large numbers of Polish workers in the Netherlands, few of them plan to stay for a long time. 'Most remain no more than four months.' Since May 2007, people from a number of Eastern European countries no longer need a permit to work in the Netherlands. The paper writes that some cities, such as Rotterdam and The Hague, felt they were being swamped by foreign workers and feared there would be problems in integrating and finding housing for all of them. However, a study conducted by the largest federation of temporary job agencies found that few of the nearly 100,000 Eastern Europeans working in the Netherlands plan to stay.
* Insurer pays out higher annuities to incorrigible smokers
Trouw's front page has some good news for the long-suffering smoker. 'Smokers are, for a change, better off than non-smokers: they can receive higher annuities because they live shorter.' Annuities, which are sometimes described as the opposite of life insurance, are policies which protect people from outliving their financial resources. Trouw reports that the policy for smokers was developed by the Dutch life insurer, Paerel Leven. 'The monthly payments are dozens to hundreds of euros higher than those paid by other life insurers, since smokers live an average of eight years shorter.'
The life insurer developed the policy together with the group Smokers' Interests. According to the chairman of Smokers' Interests, Ton Wurtz: "It's high time smokers profit from payments which are linked to their life expectancy. Smokers must pay higher premiums for life insurance. So it's only fair that they receive higher annuities." New customers for the Smokers Annuity must prove they smoke by taking a urine test. "They must also state that in the past five years they have never stopped smoking for longer than a month and have made no more than two attempts to stop. Smokers must also sign a statement that in the preceding five years they have smoked a minimum of ten cigarettes or six cigars or five pipes a day."
* Dutch Protestant cartoon protest 'feeble'
Trouw reports that the Dutch Protestant Church has protested against a cartoon which appeared this week in nrc.next. The cartoon concerns the rather mild controversy which followed the decision to screen the pornographic film 'Deep Throat', that was broadcast on national television last Saturday. The cartoon portrays God descending from heaven to Hilversum, where the public radio and television studios are located. God prevents the studios from transmitting the film by using his mouth to swallow the transmission tower.
The chairman of the Synodal Board of the Protestant Church, Gerrit de Fijter says: "Portraying God in such a manner offends the feelings of many Dutch people who believe in God as their Creator." Trouw quotes theologian Jean-Pierre Wils, who has published many studies on blasphemy. The theologian describes the Synod's protest in the 'Protestant cartoon affair' as 'feeble'.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]