Wolf in sheep's clothing calls for soft Islamic education
Ahmed Marcouch, head council of Slotervaart, sparks debate asking for public schools to offer some form of instruction in Islam.
20 June 2008
The head of the council of the Amsterdam district of Slotervaart, Ahmed Marcouch, has for the second time in less than two weeks provoked a heated debate within the Labour Party about the role of religion in public schools. The district councillor wants public schools to offer some form of instruction in Islam to reduce what he calls the "schizophrenic" gap between the pupils' home life, the Qur'an lessons they receive in the weekends and the secular school system.
In an interview in the Amsterdam daily Het Parool Mr Marcouch, who in 2006 became the first Muslim district councillor in the Netherlands, warned that many pupils from Muslim backgrounds were turning into Islamic extremism because the only form of religious education available is from fundamentalist Sunday schools. He argues that if, in their thirst for religion, youngsters fall into the trap set by an anti-democratic movement, it's the job of the authorities to take action.
Mr Marcouch received the support of fellow Labour Party member Deputy Social Affairs Minister Ahmed Aboutaleb, but most of the party condemned his proposal as endangering the separation between church and state. In April, the extremist imam Jneid Fawaz condemned him as "a hypocrite and a wolf in sheep's clothing". Now fellow Labour Party politicians are saying the same.
Dutch MP expects Jordanian arrest warrant
Dutch MP Geert Wilders says Jordan will soon issue an international warrant for his arrest in connection with his anti-Islam film, Fitna. The leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV) says the move will mean he could be extradited to Jordan if he travels abroad. He says Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has been informed of the risk and is taking it extremely seriously.
A group calling itself The Messenger of Allah Unites Us has brought a case in Jordan against Mr Wilders. He is accused of racism and incitement to hatred of Islam and Muslims, and the charge has been ruled actionable by a court in the Jordanian capital Amman. The Dutch MP expects the court to go on to issue a summons and an arrest warrant.