Row over Muslim swimming costume in Netherlands

27th February 2008, Comments 15 comments

A public swimming pool and municipality in the eastern Netherlands are at odds over whether or not visitors to public pools should be permitted to swim in out-of-the-ordinary costumes.

27 February 2008

AMSTERDAM - A public swimming pool and municipality in the eastern Netherlands are at odds over whether or not visitors to public pools should be permitted to swim in out-of-the-ordinary costumes.

This follows an incident last week in which a woman wearing a swimming costume designed for Muslim women was told to leave the Hanzebad pool in Zwolle, the capital of Overijssel province, 120 kilometres north east of Amsterdam.

On Monday night the Zwolle municipality decided the swimming pool should allow female swimmers to wear the costume known as a burkini, which covers most of the body, leaving only the face, feet and hands exposed.

But on Tuesday the Hanzebad pool officials insisted burkinis would not be permitted, saying the costume does not meet the regulations on permitted swimwear set by the public swimming pools. In addition, the garment might "scare off" other visitors to the pool wearing regular swimwear.

Hanzebad pool director Hans Meijer told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the facility has for several years been offering separate hours for female swimmers, to accommodate particularly the needs of religious Muslim women.

Meijer claimed that the woman in question, a Dutch convert to Islam, had arrived at the pool during the regular hours "to make a statement."

He said the Hanzebad pool board and the municipality were negotiating consensus policy to resolve the issue.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

15 Comments To This Article

  • Gigantor posted:

    on 5th March 2008, 13:58:27 - Reply

    Well done, a far, far better effort that the previous kumbayah missives.

    And, yes, I prefer Singapore. :-) Seems to work fairly well.
  • asdf posted:

    on 4th March 2008, 23:13:08 - Reply

    "Your smug, patronizing, and overbearing attempt at lecturing gave you away." It's amazing that you describe yourself so well. Especially with all of the name calling of "feel-good liberal" and "you silly little troll." I seriously hope that you have better ways of trying to prove a point, otherwise your children might have some serious problems later with role models and a good example.

    It is also funny that you like to blame all the world's problems on Islam. It's quite a typical and one sided argument, very common with people who never travel and see how things really are.

    Rwanda - "Black inter-tribal warfare" - Hmm, lets look back in history a little bit shall we? Maybe something about a country called Belgium taking over the entire area, cramming different ethnic and cultural groups into one territory, and then using one favored group and their towering arrogance to brutalize everyone to "their way of thinking."

    Somalia - "Islam" - Hmm, lets see here. Remember a territory called Somaliland? Another example of a large overbearing power (an assortment of different European powers this time) trying to cram different groups together and tell them collectively that what they are thinking is wrong. Ironically, although the Islamic Courts Council of Somalia seems to be getting all the bad press nowadays, this conflict of a fractured society along with foreign meddling (or outright invasions) has been going on for over a century, much longer than the decade long reign of the ICC.

    Chechnya - "Islam" - Hmm, what's the deal with this? Ah yes, lets see, to borrow your words, Chechnya separated from a secularist European state, the Russian Federation, with the result being mass murder and terror by said state. It's interesting because while "Islam" is a buzzword and is often assumed to be the cause of such troubles, here is another conflict based on one culture trying to one-up another.

    Iraq - "Islam, war" - It is also interesting to blame islam for this as well. Before the American invasion of Iraq, you had one of the most secular, and brutal, governments of the Middle East. There was a fierce separation of religion from the running of the state. Now, after the fall of the state and resulting turmoil, there is once again the "easy and simple" explanation of Islam. If you'll ignore that Iraq was a melting pot of many different ethnic and cultural groups, not to mention a massive gap between Iraqis living in the cities and those living in the countryside AND totally discount the Kurdish ETHNIC and CULTURAL minority, then I guess you can say that it's because of Islam. Religious differences do play their part, however, nowhere near the importance many in the West seem to think.

    Sudan - "Islam, genocide of blacks by Islamic majority." - I think you are somewhat confused by this. I will make a few important points about this. BOTH sides in this conflict are Muslims. You seem to be mistaking the RELIGION of Islam with the ETHNICITIES of Arabs and various sub-saharan African groups. This is hardly a religious conflict, this is about different cultures and ethnicities refusing to tolerate one another. Beside there being Muslims involved in the conflict, Islam has little to nothing to do with this. Remember, not all Arabs are Muslim, and not all Muslims are Arab <--- VERY IMPORTANT!

    East Timor - "Where'd this come? Oh, wait, Timor separated from an Islamic state, Indonesia, with the result being mass murder and terror by said state. Islam, again, I'm afraid to say." - That's an interesting view you have there, that anytime Muslims get involved with something, it MUST be because of your religion. If you leave out that the United States backed the Indonesian invasion of East Timor because of fears of Communism and that a military dictatorship, not a theocracy, was responsible for the invasion, and also that the invasion might, just might, be because the Indonesian government wanted the land and were taking advantage of a request for support from one of the Timorese political parties. Remember, if someone is of a certain religion (Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Scientology) it does not mean that everything that person does is because of that religion.

    Southern Thailand - "Islamic separatists/terror" - It may be beneficial to remember that not every place may be as ethnically and culturally homogenous as the Netherlands. Keep this in mind for this one. The recent violence in Southern Thailand did include Muslims. It also included Thai people. It also included many people who are neither, including many animists and people who belong to smaller tribal groups ethnically distinct from Thais. Also take into account police brutality, widespread poverty, a massive amount of drug trafficking, and an increasing number of local minorities being forced into prostitution and you might think you might have additional, possibly more important issues than religion, to be angry at the Thai government.

    Southern Philippines - "Islamic separatists/terror" - Once again, blame Islam for an intercultural, interethnic, and colonial conflict going on for hundreds of years. Religious differences between the Christian north and the Muslim south certainly do play a role in todays hostilities, but lets take a look back in time for a bit. First of all, there was no unified Philippine state before the late 1500s, just an array of kingdoms that varied wildly in language, culture, religion, and ethnicity. Islam is introduced to the southern Philippines and is mixed in and spread with local religions in the 1200s. Still no widespread mass conflict, no crazy Islamic conquering rampage or Muslims converting non-Muslims by force. Enter Christian Spaniards in the 1500s, widespread conversion by the sword, the near destruction of the local written languages, mass killings, terror, torture, the burnings of local religious structures, literature, and people, not to mention the introduction of systematic oppression of women and cultural minorities (nice "civilized" European values to have according to the Spaniards of the time). The colony of the Philippines is created at this point, a large territory with many distinct cultures being forced into a mold. After many local wars, insurrections, and civil strife, Spanish oppression is thrown off in the late 1800s, only to be replaced by Americans in an invasion in 1899. After more widespread killings and social conflict, the only semi-independent area left in the Philippines are holdouts in the extreme south, many of whom are Muslim, but not all. After the Americans, there are the Japanese, and then a northern dictator, and now the northern government and Americans again, back for more. See the pattern here? Despite many religious groups coming to the fore today like the MNLF, this has been more of a struggle to retain one's identity in the face of constant invaders than anything else.

    South Africa - "What? I thought this was a shining example of multi-culti love and cooperation for you liberals?" - About this constant "liberal" thing. Are you speaking of the European school of Liberalism (Locke and the Individual), the American school of Liberalism (social welfare and other programs) or a strange and somewhat silly American "neoconservative" term that refers to people who "stand against everything we stand for" and supposedly control the media and oppose morals and decency or something (the American neoliberals have some equally strange and silly word for neocons as well I believe). You only need to answer if you can understand these concepts (also known as basic political philosophy).

    Zimbabwe - "Corrupt African politics and persecution of the minority whites." - Absolutely correct actually! And if you go just 25 years back, it would be Corrupt European politics and persecution of the majority blacks. Funny how the world goes and a little sad to see where intolerance and an inability to see how the other side stands has gotten us!

    Hm, 0 out of 10 for the "Islam is responsible for the conflict-o-meter" and a 10 out of 10 for the "This is what happens when you can't compromise with others-o-meter"

    This is not to say that Islam has no parts to play in conflict (look at the Ottoman Empire or the Taliban for example) but that it cannot be used as a scapegoat for issues that are multifaceted. Your grudge against Islam puts an interesting cast on things, but cannot be used to logically expalin most conflict around the world.

    It is also interesting that you automatically assume that the woman in question became a Muslim because of a boyfriend or husband when the article says nothing about it. Did you become a Muslim to impress your wife? From how little you know of Islam, I can assume that the answer is no.

    And Singapore? Wow, what an example. A city-state that was the result of a balkanization taking place in Malaysia between the Malay majority and the Chinese minority. It is an extremely exclusivist society created by expats in a foreign nation, not really an ideal of a multicultural society.

    But it seems that Singapore is the kind of country you would like, with their non-existent integration policy, minority and gender based oppression, little political freedom, and a severe problem with an ageing population and few children. If you'll notice, since 2007, the Sinaporean government is trying to reverse many of its earlier policies, and is now trying different methods to entice people to immigrate.
  • Gigantor posted:

    on 4th March 2008, 05:59:23 - Reply


    Nice screed, and though you may say “I am not a liberal!”, you sure could have fooled me. Your smug, patronizing and over-bearing attempt at lecturing gave you away.

    You haven't convinced me that the multi-culti kumbayah experiment has failed. It's been tried here in various countries in Europe for years and we can clearly see the results. Large groups of people that have failed to integrate, fail to speak or understand the native language and have little or no loyalty towards their adopted home. Google up "Paris", "Burning Cars", "Copenhagen" to name a few keywords, and I'm sure you'll grant the point. As if.

    I disagree that the US is a poor example and the factors you brought up have nothing to do with the question at hand.

    Now, in your list of trouble-spots in the world, I'm not sure I can discern a pattern, but let's see if I can quickly go through them, one by one.

    1) Rwanda - Black inter-tribal warfare, nothing to do with immigration or integration that I'm aware of
    2) Somalia - Islam
    3) Chechnya - Islam
    4) Iraq – Islam, war
    5) Sudan - Islam, genocide of blacks by Islamic majority
    6) East Timor - Where'd this come from? Oh, wait, Timor separated from an Islamic state, Indonesia, with the result being mass murder and terror by said state. Islam, again, I’m afraid to say.
    7) S. Thailand - Islamic separatists/terror
    8) S. Philippines - Islamic separatists/terror
    9) S. Africa - What? I thought this was a shining example of multi-culti love and co-operation for you liberals?
    10) Zimbabwe - Corrupt African politics and persecution of the minority whites.

    Hm. maybe I do see a pattern here. 7 out of 10 isn't bad.

    Bottom line here, though, is that the person demanding the burkha swimming suit changes isn't even an immigrant, but a Dutch convert to Islam, likely trying to impress her boyfriend/husband with her newly adopted religious zeal. And that misplaced zeal does a real disservice to those many immigrants who do try to adapt and who aren't demanding that Dutch society be warped and twisted to suit minority demands. And that's the real shame of it. Funny thing, though, is that I don’t notice any immigrant groups rushing to her defense.

    It's not up to the native society to change their laws to suit the newcomer. Here's the crux of the issue, you came here to the Netherlands. It's up to you to fit in here, not up to the Dutch to change their society to fit you, the foreigner. It's the height of arrogance that you, a foreigner, would come to another person’s home and demand that the host re-arrange the furniture in their house, to suit your tastes.

    If you want to see an integration policy that does seem to work, check out Singapore. You want to live there, you follow their rules, learn their languages, or leave. And it is a multi-culti society.
  • asdf posted:

    on 3rd March 2008, 22:54:52 - Reply

    Silly Gigantor, leave these trix for kids...

    ...but on a more serious note, if you want to talk about swimming pools in the Middle East, take a little time, just a little bit out of your time to think about what you are saying. Hmm, lets see, assuming, just assuming that not every place in the world is just like Europe, many smaller communities in the middle east are farming or local trade based communities. Swimming pools are an extreme LUXURY in places that are still in the midst of industrialization and are something you probably take for granted in your comfortable upper middle class existence in the Netherlands.

    It's also interesting that you reflexively and immediately assume that those who criticize your views do so based on race or a perception of you being a racist. No one so far has mentioned anything about a race or racism except for you. (By the way, here's a cookie for knowing that Islam isn't a race, not that anyone said it was. I know it's hard, but I appreciate your efforts.) Race isn't even a part of the argument and it should be left that way.

    Also, the "multi-culti kumbayah experience" is far from dead. Having a multicultural society does not mean that the accepting culture needs to adopt every facet of the incoming culture, nor does it mean that the receiving culture needs to bend over backwards to receive people. It only requires that the receivers attempt to understand the cultures coming in and possibly accommodate or accept other cultural influences. Today, no culture, nation, or people is an island. Try as some might (North Korea for example), cultural exchange is inevitable. There is becoming less and less of a perceived need to define ourselves as "us" and "them" although a true erosion of these differences is still more a dream than a reality. As nice as this all sounds though, multiculturalism does have its dangers and pitfalls. What a society needs to do is not let everything in or keep everything out, but to make a balance between acceptance and stability and to above all, avoid absolutist views on cultures (including its own) and to be flexible.

    If you want to talk about the Balkanization of society, the United States of America is not a very good example. California, Texas, and Florida each have significant problems with widespread poverty, racism, and immigration, but none of those, or any other American state would be even close to true Balkanization. If you want to see true Balkanization, leave your comfy industrialized nations and see what the world truly has to show you. Visit the actual Balkans where there are still minefields and bitter memories from a war not even a generation ago. Look at places like Rwanda, Somalia, Chechnya, Iraq, Sudan, East Timor, Southern Thailand, Southern Philippines, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and many other places with real divisions in society. Those are places with real risks for balkanization, not rich countries where balkanization is a political buzzword used by politicians when they run into integration problems.

    As for your comment of "adapt to our ways or leave," I don't care who said it or who your wife is, that kind of attitude gets people nowhere. Immigrants should always be expected to and be helped to fit into society, particularly in regard to it's laws, however, it should never prevent a society from changing its laws to suit a minority group if the people see it as a beneficial thing or prevent people from "making a statement" whatever that statement is. It's a little thing known as "political freedom."

    Lastly, throughout your post you make numerous references to yourself and to who you assume I am. Apparently you have daughters, are married to a Dutch Malaysian woman, and are a (somewhat childish) American expat father. I am, supposedly, a naive Western feel-good Liberal who has spent the majority of their time outside of the West inside of expat compounds, a "troll", and a person who has not assimilated to the Dutch way of life. I do not believe in posting personal information about myself publicly on the Internet but I will let you in on a few things. I am not a "Liberal" (for the most part anyway), I have never lived inside an expat compound (although I have visited a few), and I am not from the West. I am also not a Troll although I would probably look interesting with horns or wild hair.
  • gigantor posted:

    on 28th February 2008, 12:04:30 - Reply

    asdf, you silly little troll,

    I'll give you a bare 1 point for not dragging out the old "you're a racist!" canard, as if Islam is any sort of race (free hint- it isn't, but you knew that). But, that's the usual response from a feel-good liberal whenever Islamic encroachment is objected to.

    And, you're right, in the large Islamic cities, I'm sure there are swimming facilities available which cater to different genders. But how about the rest of the towns, villages, encampments, etc... I'm sure your probable vast experience of living in the expat-compounds for a year will help with the question.

    On re-reading the article, though, I note that the woman bringing the action, isn't an actual real muslima at all, but a Dutch convert to the religion. What is with that? I mean, I'm sure she has a vast tidal wave of support from oppressed muslimas from all over The Netherlands that aren't allowed to swim in their burkhas, all 25 of them, er, no, wait, haven't seen or heard that, yet. Maybe those immigrant women are assimilating better than that native born Dutch convert. Or you, asdf.

    It's well-known that those unstable enough to convert to such a strict lifestyle will likely become far more zealous in their observances than those actually raised in the religion and familiar with it. Perhaps a better solution would be that she should move, as suggested, to a country more suited to her newly adopted lifestyle and experience it all for real, instead of posturing and making a statement, as she clearly is, from the safety and security of the very society that makes it possible for her to make her demands without fear of arrest or persecution. She should give it a try, and I'm fairly certain she'll be back in the Netherlands within weeks, donning her bikini, waxing her over-sized backside, and going swimming where ever she wants.

    The multi-culti kumbayah experience is dead and a failure where ever it's been tried. If you're going to have a homogeneous society, all members of that society must try to meld and fit, especially newcomers. Otherwise, you risk/invite a "Balkinization" of your society, such as what is happening in California, Texas, Florida and other places too numerous to count. Yes, certainly, enjoy and celebrate your heritage, nothing wrong with that and much good. My kids know they're half-American, half-Asian, but as my 8 year old says, "She's Dutch". And that's that, as far as she's concerned. She might have the right to an American passport, but she travels with her Dutch passport firmly in her little hand.

    Oh, and just for your information, "asdf", you anonymous little troll, my comment about 'adapt to our ways or leave' was made by my wife, who is a muslima of Malaysian descent. Seems she's integrated into Dutch society far better than that Dutch native, who likely converted to Islam to make her boyfriend happy.
  • Calogero posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 22:18:12 - Reply

    When you move to another country and culture you must adapt to the same rules as everyone else.If you do not like it you are free to leave.I would not move to an Islamic country and demand my "rights".I would be jailed or deported.
  • xjkiyt posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 21:52:31 - Reply

    the girls get their tits out at my local fancy dress swimming night
  • Paul posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 21:45:05 - Reply

    I respect the cultural wit of the above poster and would add that women already have a choice of what they want to wear, full body suit or G-string and top. Surely the compromise is already there, as you would expect in a liberal compromising Place like The West. You Lucky Lucky things
  • asdf posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 21:39:22 - Reply

    "Face it. In the middle east, where and when do women get the chance to go swimming? Ever? Clad or un-clad? And you expect us to adapt to your so-called 'standards'? Hello! This is Europe! It's not Backholistan..."

    Nice post there gigantor. Except that it showcases your arrogance and ignorance. There ARE swimming pools in the Middle East and they are almost always separated into male and female pools.

    It is interesting that you would take this tone of "This is Europe not 'Backholistan'" and "adapt our ways or leave." In this age of multiculturalism and progressivism, I think that it is narrowminded people like you that no one will miss.
  • Zip posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 21:29:30 - Reply

    That's fancy dress swimming night in my Local pool.
  • gigantor posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 16:03:28 - Reply

    Still waiting, Tanizaki, for an example of male swimmers wearing a burkha...

    Funny enough, I take my daughters each week swimming in the local swimming pool. No one, at all, wears a burkha-like covering. Male, female or any other sort.

    Face it. In the middle east, where and when do women get the chance to go swimming? Ever? Clad or un-clad? And you expect us to adapt to your so-called 'standards'? Hello! This is Europe! It's not Backholistan...

    Grow up. You live here, adapt to here. If you can't, go back to where you came from. It's really as simple as that. Go back.

    We won't miss you for one second.

  • Gigantor posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 14:12:43 - Reply

    Er, that would be a Speedo for men? Trying hard, but I can't picture any male swimmers wearing burkhas in a pool and competing... Do you possibly have any pictures of men wearing burkhas while swimming?
  • rltanizaki posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 13:04:37 - Reply

    I advise Eastern Netherlanders to watch swimming competitions where most swimmers wear something like the burkini - everything covered except face, hands and feet. Champion male swimmers wear this as well!
  • rltanizaki posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 13:04:37 - Reply

    I advise Eastern Netherlanders to watch swimming competitions where most swimmers wear something like the burkini - everything covered except face, hands and feet. Champion male swimmers wear this as well!
  • rltanizaki posted:

    on 27th February 2008, 13:04:36 - Reply

    I advise Eastern Netherlanders to watch swimming competitions where most swimmers wear something like the burkini - everything covered except face, hands and feet. Champion male swimmers wear this as well!