RNW Press Review, Tuesday 1 July 2008
Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.1 July 2008
No charges against Wilders
Populist politician Geert Wilders has returned to the newspapers after a brief absence. On Monday, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Amsterdam ruled that it would not bring charges against him.
Muslim organisations and governments have been demanding that Wilders be tried for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, discriminating and spreading hatred against Muslims and insulting Muslims and their religion.
The Jordanian public prosecutor has brought charges against Wilders and has issued an international warrant for his arrest.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office, which based its ruling on Dutch and European law, sought the advice of an anti-discrimination centre and four independent legal experts.
It concluded that Wilders comments should be seen within the context of the current debate in Dutch society on Muslim extremism.
“The Freedom Party leader did not insult Muslims (as people). He criticised a religion which he considers a dangerous ideology.”
De Volkskrant devotes an editorial to the public prosecutor’s ruling which it describes as “prudent”.
It points out that although some of Wilders comments can be considered insulting, which means that in theory they could be viewed as a punishable offence, politicians must be able to speak freely about signals they receive from all segments of society.
The Protestant newspaper Trouw disagrees with the verdict.
In an editorial entitled ‘Wilders can go his own sweet way’, Trouw calls on the public prosecutor to reconsider the ruling. It writes that his criticism of religion (with statements such as “the sick ideology of Allah and Muhammad” and his description of the Qur’an as a “Fascist book”) cannot be separated from his proposal to close the borders to Muslim immigrants and ban the building of mosques.
Trouw says the ruling ignores the effects on future generations of immigrants and their children who will learn “that it is normal, or in any event permissible for a politician to lash out vehemently against the religion of a minority group”.
De Telegraaf writes that following the ruling of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Wilders is now considering writing a book or making another movie, Fitna 2.
He says he is not surprised that he won’t be charged in the Netherlands. “I don’t have to abide by the laws of ‘banana republics’ such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The ruling should be rolled up and tied with gold lace and sent to the nuts in Amman.”
Heineken doesn’t want to offend religions
A week ago, two Dutch companies which feared a boycott of their products took out advertisements in Jordanian newspapers distancing themselves from the film Fitna.
Today’s de Volkskrant reports that Heineken has withdrawn a television ad from the Spanish television station La Sexta after the station broadcast a satirical series which made fun of the Roman Catholic Church.
De Volkskrant writes that Christian groups were pleased but opponents of the decision accuse Heineken of submitting to pressure from groups which undermine freedom of expression.
Heineken withdrew the ad after the Christian group Hazte Or called for a boycott of all companies which do business with La Sexta.
Dutch crown prince: let’s call a toilet a toilet
Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander gave a speech to African leaders at the African Union summit in Egypt on Monday. The leaders had just signed a declaration pledging to make the supply of water and good sanitation a priority.
The Dutch crown prince congratulated the AU leaders.
He also spoke about his deceased father Prince Claus. “A united Africa was his dream. He loved Africa, believed in Africa, dreamed of Africa. He passed his passion on to his children.”
Prince Willem-Alexander said Africa is in a race against the clock when it comes to providing clean drinking water.
Only some 60 percent Africans have clean drinking water and less than 40 percent have acceptable sanitary facilities.
He also called on African leaders to break the taboo against speaking about toilets and hygiene. He said that in many countries the taboo against speaking about AIDS and HIV had been transcended. So why not toilets? “Let’s start calling a toilet a toilet.”
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]
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