RNW Press Review – Tuesday 18 March 2008
A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.
RNW Press Review – Tuesday 18 March 2008 – by Frank Scimone
De Volkskrant reports that its website had received more than 8,000 reactions by Monday evening to an advertisement placed on the bottom of its front page the same day condemning the anti-Muslim sentiments of the populist politician Geert Wilders. The politician - who is founder of the right-wing Freedom Party - has produced Fitna, a movie against the Qur’an which will reportedly be released before the end of the month.
The advertisement was from the well-known Dutch television producer Harry de Winter, who is also one of the founders of ‘A Different Jewish Voice’ a group which supports the Israeli peace movement and opposes the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to the ad: “If Wilders used the same type of gibberish to describe the Jews (and the Old Testament) as he does about Muslims (and the Qur’an) then he’d have been fed to the lions and sentenced for anti-Semitism a long time ago.”
If you’re coincidentally born as a…
In an interview with the newspaper Trouw, “Harry de Winter lets out a sigh, for once even his biggest opponent (the Orthodox) Rabbi Raphael Evers agrees with him.” He says that Wilders’ film was the last straw. “If you’re coincidentally born here as a Muslim you can forget it… Wilders says that the Muslim is to blame and that the Qur’an is a fascist book. That’s how it started with the Jews, by generalising. I see parallels, to a certain extent…Wilders is the self-appointed spokesman of ugliness. He offends selectively and without abandon.”
The Jew and the Muslim don’t exist
Elisabeth Lubotsky, secretary of the youth group of the pro-Israeli Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, says: “With his simplistic statements Wilders usually stays within the thin line of what can be considered freedom of speech. I also have problems with Wilders’ populist tones…the nuance is missing. The Jew doesn’t exist, nor does the Muslim. If Wilders generalises in such a fashion he’s discriminating. Then you should do something about it.”
An undisturbed nights rest in Groningen?
De Telegraaf writes that in the northern town of Groningen “There is already a neighbourhood committee against student nuisance in every street.” A year ago the town council decided to raise the number of apartments which can be rented to the tens of thousands of students in Groningen from nine percent to 25 percent for a trial period. The result is that many working class neighbourhoods have been flooded with students who tend to make a lot of noise until the wee hours of the morning.
Kees Vermeer, who has founded a neighbourhood committee called Undisturbed Night’s Rest says he can understand that students want to enjoy themselves, but the situation has gotten completely out of hand with students shrieking with laughter at all hours of the night. De Telegraaf reports that the town of Groningen is now assessing the situation. A spokesman for the municipality pointed out that there are two sides to the story, since the university also wants to expand “and there are considerable interests at stake for the city”.
“And I don’t want to hear your music…”
The front page of the in-depth newspaper nrc.next is taken up by an enormous headline: “THIS NEWSPAPER IS MINE: and I also don’t want to hear your music. Or am I too old-fashioned?” The article concerns rudeness and lack of manners in the public domain: “Because the multi-consumer does as he or she pleases.” The article starts off by pointing out that in the train you not only have to watch out that someone not take your baggage, but also no difference is made between the free newspapers and your copy of nrc.next, which someone else is likely to grab. Then the newspaper is thrown away “since what is free you don’t take home. And at the end of the day the compartment looks like a litter bin for recycled paper.”
Passengers also use the paper to put under their feet on the opposite seat. “The conductor has long since stopped asking: Do you do that at home too? Since more and more often the answer is: Yes, and so what?” The article continues that the multi-consumer also listens to music and talks on the phone as loudly as he or she pleases as well as eat and drink. And “In the street and on the platform passers-by walk along chewing, drinking and licking…
High schools are recognisable by the soft-drinks cans and packaging in the immediate vicinity.” Nrc.next writes that in the Netherlands people don’t seem to care about littering the public domain. The paper’s solution is a “social contract” which seems to be missing in the Netherlands. Nrc.next suggests that the towns and companies which serve the consumer begin to provide services and rules for the public to help them along.
Toilet paper donated to wrong school
AD writes about “shocking conclusions” drawn from an inspection of toilets at 160 elementary schools. A quarter of the children would rather not visit the school toilets because they are smelly and the toilet seats are sticky. And ten percent of pupils manage to hold it in the entire day.
The Middelpunt school in Rotterdam received only a one out of ten rating for cleanliness. However, the school’s principal objected to the “absurdly low evaluation”. She said that during the evaluation most of the parents who clean the toilets on a voluntary basis were ill from a flu virus. Because of budget cuts “Schools often depend on the fathers and mothers to clean the toilets.” She added that: “Infants in particular tend to make a mess.”
The magazine Growing Bigger, which conducted the survey, has donated 7,860 rolls of toilet paper to the Willibrord Milandschool in Bodegraven which was found to have the cleanest toilets. However the editor-in-chief of the magazine said in retrospect that perhaps the periodical should have donated the mountain of toilet paper to the school in Rotterdam “since there the hygiene leaves much to be desired”.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]