RNW press review
Catch the latest Dutch news in brief...
20 June 2008
At the beginning of June, Labour Party councillor Ahmed Marcouch called for Islamic religious instruction to be added to the national curriculum. His plea led to a debate in the party, which has mostly been conducted on the pages of the national dailies.
In an article in the Protestant Trouw, Mr Marcouch argues that Islamic Sunday schools contribute to the radicalisation of Dutch Muslim youths as they are taught to despise western culture by a "hard taskmaster" at Sunday school, but during the week, they are taught to value western culture by a "sweet and gentle Dutch schoolmistress". He says that if the Islamic religion were taught in the national curriculum, Muslim students would not become "angry and frustrated" by their schizophrenic educational experience.
De Volkskrant, the paper of the leftwing secular establishment, prints an article by two other Labour Party councillors, who argue that Mr Marcouch's idea contravenes the separation of church and state, will end the secular nature of public education, and will also contribute to "the downfall of the secular Labour Party".
There's more trouble on the horizon for Dutch drivers: AD writes that the four largest cities in the country have come up with a plan to reduce pollution by making parking much more expensive for 'smog-mobiles'. The cabinet has given approval for the trial, in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, which ties parking tariffs to the amount of pollution produced.
According to one Labour party MP; "We need to introduce measures that will make people ashamed to ride around in smog-mobiles". However, not all members of the coalition government are in favour of the measures. A CDA MP says he has, "serious doubts as to whether it is achievable" and asks, "How do you check how much pollution a car produces?" He also notes that "If you've parked the car, the engine is off and you're not producing any pollution". I suppose he has a point.
AD reports that the organisation representing Dutch cannabis businesses, PCN, says the ban on cigarette smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants will lead to an increase in the number of problems caused by stoned people. The organisation says that the (cigarette) smoking ban will lead to a 10 percent reduction in the number of coffee shops in Amsterdam, as the cafes are too small to create a smoke-free room as well as a smoking area.
PCN chair Willem Panders says people will buy their dope and sit outside on the pavement to smoke it, and this will lead to an increase in the number of complaints from neighbours who don't want people loitering on their doorsteps smoking dope. Mr Panders says coffee shops will become, "take-away marijuana cafes".
Oddly enough, the Dutch anti-smoking laws are only applicable to tobacco products. This means that while it will be perfectly legal to smoke a pure marijuana joint, if you mix your dope with tobacco and light up, you'll be breaking the law.
Several papers report that the number of Amsterdam gays and lesbians reporting instances of discrimination almost doubled in 2007. NRC next writes that Report Discrimination Amsterdam or MDA received 134 complaints in 2007, up from 73 in 2006.
An MDA spokesperson said almost 50 percent of the increase was due to a call by a Christian Union politician to ban practising gays and lesbians from representing the party. Trouw writes that the rest of the increase is attributable to a campaign by the Amsterdam police and city council encouraging gays and lesbians to report discrimination.
The Dutch have all been infected with football fever, and a significant percentage of the adverts on radio and television have a connection with Euro 2008. Dozens of companies have created products or special offers that have something to do with the Dutch national team and of course they have created adverts to push these 'orange' products. AD asked its readers to vote for the best Euro 2008 marketing campaign and the results are published in today's paper.
The overwhelming winner is Albert Hein's Welpie, a cross between a lion and a fuzzy orange troll that you can stick on to pretty much anything. And you do indeed see them all over the place as the supermarket chain ordered 24 million of them. According to Albert Hein's theme communication manager (yes that job title does exist, I'm not making it up), "It had to be something you could stick on to any surface, it had to be strokeable, and it had to radiate team spirit".
By Jacqueline Carver