Saturday, November 18, 2006

Allowing everything but the veil - Editorial - Los Angeles Times

David Seaton's News Links
I have a German musician friend, a Berliner, who plays in the Eindhoven symphony orchestra in Holland, but commutes to work every day from Antwerp in Belgium. He says he prefers to live in Belgium because the Dutch have taken tolerance to the point of fascism: they are hysterically tolerant. Certainly they have chosen the wrong people and the wrong moment. A significant part of the problem with Muslims today is that they feel (with some justification) that their identity is under attack. This veil business is like the Czarist army in Russia forcing Jews to eat pork. I really can't see any difference. DS

Abstract: Same-sex marriage, euthanasia, drug use, prostitution — in the Netherlands those are perfectly fine. But the one thing the Dutch apparently will not tolerate is what they perceive to be intolerance. In defense of their cherished tradition of gedogen — which loosely translates as "to live and let live" — the Dutch are ready to force the assimilation of conservative Muslim immigrants, who are deemed intolerant of fabled Dutch tolerance and must therefore no longer be tolerated. Got that? Five days before a national election, the Netherlands' center-right government announced that it would introduce legislation to ban the wearing of burkas, veils and similar garments in public places. Should it pass, the most famously accepting country in Europe would have the most restrictive anti-Muslim laws on the Continent.(...) If anything, the proposed law, which is being justified on security grounds, could backfire by encouraging more immigrants to reach for their veils. And it risks further victimizing women by forcing them to stay indoors. A tiny minority of the roughly 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands are conservative enough to be affected by the proposed ban, but the message to all of them is loud and clear. And menacing. Dutch anxiety about immigrants' rejection of Western culture is understandable. The nation is still traumatized by the 2004 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who made a film critical of Islam. But to force assimilation is to fight intolerance with intolerance. The ban would undermine the very culture — Dutch culture — it seeks to protect.(...) Part of Dutch identity, since the Netherlands welcomed Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, not to mention our own Pilgrim ancestors fleeing England, has been tolerance. By outlawing a religious and cultural practice they fear, the Dutch would be sacrificing some of their own identity. READ IT ALL

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