RNW Press Review - Tuesday 22 January 2008 – by Frank Scimone
"Wilders, Wilders, Wilders" screams another full-page article over Dutch Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders in today's Volkskrant. This time however de Volkskrant is not reporting about the Dutch media, but about the media in Muslim countries.
According to Gulsen Devre who has been working in the Egyptian capital Cairo for the past year as correspondent for islamonline.net, an international Islamic website, "Here they hardly know anything about the film made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wilders is getting all the attention". She says the Wilders effect first surfaced last February when he introduced his ‘ripping up the Qu'ran plan': "If Muslims wanted to remain in the Netherlands they had to rip up the half of the holy book."
De Volkskrant writes that the Dutch woman of Turkish origin was surprised how well-informed Egyptians were about Wilders. Now his plans to make a film about the Qu'ran have led to even more attention in the Egyptian media. She says much of the image of the Netherlands is being formed by the Freedom Party leader. "While many Dutch people have an extreme image of the Muslim world, many Egyptians have the same kind of image of the Netherlands. They think it must be really awful for Muslims to live in the midst of people such as Wilders."
Wilders spreading through virtual Muslim world at 'speed of lightning'
De Volkskrant reports that Wilders' ‘provocations' are spreading through the virtual Muslim world ‘at the speed of lightning'. "All of his statements – from the banning of the Qu'ran to that comparing the Prophet Muhammad with Hitler – are getting a lot of attention. They are being reported in quality newspapers and forum users air their rage on the Internet. " The paper writes that while coverage in serious media such as Al Jazeera is usually fairly balanced "the Netherlands still doesn't look so good". The ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper Keyhan had a full-page anti-Dutch article in December that described the Netherlands as "the cultural NATO against Islam". A member of a pro-democracy and human rights group in Iran told de Volkskrant that people in Iran and dictatorial Arab countries "don't make a difference between the government, parliament, political parties and the media. They don't understand that governments can't ban a cartoon or film."
Wilders scores big in hits on Arabic-language Internet
The newspaper Trouw has scanned the Arab-language Internet and writes that "Wilders doesn't have anything to complain about when it comes to having his name recognised in the virtual Arab world." So far the populist MP can claim 66,000 hits on the Arabic-language version of Google, most of them concerning his controversial statements about Muslims and the Qu'ran.
Muslim websites allow too much… controversial language
Trouw also writes about websites for Muslims in the Netherlands that are used mostly by youths of Moroccan and Turkish origin. Last week Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders called on Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk to withdraw the subsidy for one of the websites, marokko.nl. It seems that the site's forum had the gall to permit…insulting language. A spokesman for marokko.nl, Khalid Mahdaoui, told Trouw that the site made considerable effort to remove insulting comments from its forums. "We remove approximately 20,000 messages and 150 members every week." Wilders had complained that, following the death of Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan, messages had remained on the site for hours that said "It's a good thing" and "two serious criminals gotten rid of". Mr Mahdaoui says the site made a policy of keeping some insulting messages on its forum "because we believe in free expression and even if its sounds unethical, the right to insult". He says the site monitors 50,000 messages daily. If they receive a call about a discriminatory message "It is removed immediately."
Rotterdam delivers 'undeliverable' letter to 250,000 residences
The newspaper Trouw writes that tomorrow the city of Rotterdam will commemorate the Second World War and warn about discrimination by sending a copy of the book ‘Undeliverable' to all 250,000 residences in the city. The book was written in 1992 by Isaac Lipschits, and takes the form of a letter to his mother who was killed in Auschwitz. In the letter he tells his mother what happened to him and his brother since she brought them to an undercover address in 1942.
Mr Lipschits tells Trouw: "I don't have the illusion that people will read my book en masse. But I'll be satisfied if a few get its message that we should never condemn a group of people whether they be Dutch, Germans or Moroccans. If ten women's purses are stolen and the culprits are ten Moroccan kids, it's a mistake to think that all Moroccans are bad. Wilders is right if he says we as a society have a problem. But it's no solution to ban the Qu'ran because there are plenty of nice and devout Muslims".
Trouw visited the house where Mr Lipschits' family lived before they were deported. Now a Turkish family lives there. "The mother Habibe Karatas, with her sun Ismail and daughter Hilal." Habibe, who closely studies the family portrait on the cover of Lipschits' book says: "The father's so dark, he could be Turkish. But what difference does it make who or what we are, Turkish, Jew or Dutch. For God we are all alike."
Melting polar caps = new opportunities
De Volkskrant writes: "Glaciers melt and deltas overflow, but environmental problems are good for something. There's a whole new job market." The newspaper interviewed Caroline Ligtenberg who has set up a sustainable job vacancy site. She expected several hundred visitors a day, but after ten months she already has 2,000. De Volkskrant reports that 'climate specialists' who can advise companies on issues such as carbon-dioxide storage underground, the use of hydrogen and clean vehicles are still hard to find. Piet Stout, who directs a project and management agency in civil engineering and the environment, has called for climate lessons to be introduced in elementary schools. Mr Stout says climate will soon become a part of everyday life. Elsewhere in de Volkskrant, there is an article on oil exploration in the polar circles. A report presented on Monday concludes that melting polar caps will make oil exploration and extraction much easier.
'Mobile phones cause sleep deprivation'
The free newspaper Metro leads with an article titled "Mobile phone use leads to sleep deprivation". The paper reports on a study that concluded that sleepless nights were caused by radiation from the phones. However M G Smits, a neurologist interviewed by Metro, says this is nonsense. Moreover, the study was far too small to be conclusive. He says the sleep deprivation is a result of many young people staying up late sending text messages. He says sleeping next to a mobile phone also makes the brain more active. Another sleep specialists adds that "Teenagers are woken up by the phone at least twice a week."
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Subject: Dutch news
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