RNW Press Review – Monday 31 March 2008
A roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.
Subdued reactions to FItna
Reactions to Dutch MP Geert Wilders' film Fitna throughout the world this weekend have been subdued.
De Volkskrant reports Jordanian MPs have called for diplomatic ties with the Netherlands to be broken. Iran has asked its Dutch envoy to see to it that the film is banned. There were small demonstrations in Muslim countries. Pakistan took security measures to safeguard the Dutch embassy and Dutch businesses in Karachi (after it called for demonstrations).
The Organisation of Islamic Conference praised the Dutch government's position on the matter and Arabic ministers meeting in Damascus called for legislation to ban the insulting of religions.
De Volkskrant reports on Saudi Arabian Esam Mudeer who wants to "bomb" the Netherlands with books on the "peaceful message of the Koran". He says Wilders has succeeded where 52 Muslim countries have failed to get people interested in Islam.
AD and De Volkskrant both print a photo of a debate about the film organised in Amsterdam. Geert Wilders' chair remains conspicuously empty. Local councillor Ahmed Marcouch asks "Geert Wilders, where are you?"
Low energy homes
AD reports on the findings of a Dutch TV documentary that a system to ventilate low-energy housing is making residents ill. Housing minister Ella Vogelaar wants either the system to be banned or builders to be prosecuted for cutting corners when installing it.
Legislation means energy requirements are stricter, making houses EUR 4,000 - 5,000 more expensive. A building trade organisation says legislation has been introduced without any research being done.
The documentary revealed that residents in 310 households in new housing in Amersfoort suffered chronic illness ranging from lung and eye infections, asthma attacks and children who have to be put on artificial respiration.
Claims lawyer Martin de Witte says, the city council is to blame: "The problems with the system have been known for years, but nothing has been done up to now".
Three gold medals were won by Dutch cyclists at Manchester's world track cycling championships last weekend.
Marianne Vos won the women's points race, making her the world's best allrounder "Unbelievable. I couldn't have dreamt of this happening".
The 20-year-old only interrupted her road training to do the race because she needed a good result to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. Other competitors spent weeks preparing for the event.
Teun Mulders' photo makes it onto the front page of De Telegraaf after his surprise win in the men's kilometre time trial. He hadn't trained for the event for three years and even had to borrow time trial handlebars to compete. "I was going to withdraw". And last but not least Ellen van Dijk won gold in the Women's scratch race, a 10-kilometre non-Olympic event. In an earlier event, she missed Olympic qualification, "this makes up for it," she says.
April fool fines
On the eve of the introduction of increased tariffs for traffic fines, AD reports record numbers of fines recorded in 2007, reaching more than a staggering 12 and a half million.
The number of speeding fines alone increased by 10 percent.
Amsterdam police topped the chart handing out more than 1.2 million fines, followed in second place by Rotterdam. Three quarters of the fines are for minor offences.
Opposition parties and police organisations vehemently oppose the 20 percent tariff increase due to be introduced on April first. The increase does little to improve public support for traffic controls, especially as the paper says the government has admitted that the measure has nothing to do with traffic safety, but that it needs EUR 90 million to cover the shortfall of its budget.
The April Fool's day fine increases are no joke for serial traffic offender Koen Roozen who clocked up almost 100 fines last year, "I drive 50,000 to 60,000 kilometres a year and that's why fines regularly land on my doormat".
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]