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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Dutch Culture War

I don't know if you guys have heard of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but she is the one who wrote the movie submission- a controversial movie about women's treatment in Islamic society- that caused the murder of its director Theo Van Gogh on the hands of a fanatic moroccan Immigrant, who decided to also declare a Jihad against the Netherlands, the US and Europe while was at it. Hirsi Ali has been under constant protection since the murder that ignited a culture war in a country famous for its tolerance of other cultures. This "The Nation" article details each side of the issue, especially the people who support her and the people who oppose her ( you will be surprised on both accounts) , while i am showing the article snippets that i found to be, well, interesting! In the United States, where few people have had the chance to read or see her critiques of Islam, the 35-year-old Hirsi Ali has been almost exclusively portrayed as a champion of free speech and women's rights. In the Netherlands, however, she remains the subject of intense controversy. Well before van Gogh's murder, she had become a major hate figure among Dutch Muslims, who accuse her of stirring up Islamophobia on behalf of a cabal of right-wing politicians and columnists. Since the murder, a surprising number of native-born Dutch intellectuals have come around to the Muslim point of view. In a series of "Letters to Hirsi Ali" published this spring in the newspaper De Volkskrant, several well-known, mostly male writers charged her with poisoning the political atmosphere with her strident attacks on Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. They argued that by pandering to Dutch prejudices and putting Muslims on the defensive, she contributes to the very Islamic radicalization she claims to want to stop. In a book rushed into print in February, the popular historian Geert Mak went so far as to compare Submission to Joseph Goebbels's infamous Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew. He warned that the Netherlands could be on the road to civil war. "When the time comes for us to tell our grandchildren, how will we tell the story of the last months of 2004?" Mak asked breathlessly. "The tone, the new tone that suddenly had taken hold? Where did it all begin?" [...] Moors and others don't dispute the existence of the social problems Hirsi Ali identifies. Many Dutch Muslim women do live in segregated "parallel cities" where Islamic social codes are enforced. Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women's shelters and more than half of those seeking abortions. Muslim girls have far higher suicide rates than non-Muslim girls. Some Muslim girls, mostly African, are genitally mutilated. But in putting all the blame on Islam, they say, Hirsi Ali ignores the influence of patriarchal custom as well as the work of a generation of Muslim feminists. They point to thinkers like Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud, who have shown that Islam's sacred texts can be interpreted in a more female-friendly way. And they say Hirsi Ali avoids mention of the role the West has played and continues to play in assisting the rise of the Islamist movements. "The rightist forces and the radical Islamists feed on each other, and she contributes to that," Moors said. [...] Although the press has focused on the threats against critics of Islam like Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, Aouragh says that there have been many more attacks on Dutch Muslims than on non-Muslims. She suspects that what the Dutch really fear is not Islamic fundamentalism but the prospect of having to deal with a new generation of highly educated young Muslims who demand a fair hearing for their values. "We are telling them, 'We have rights, too. You have to change your idea about freedom or face the consequences.'" Hmm.... Go read it all!


At 6/13/2005 04:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi SM,

Thanks for the blog. I am somewhat amazed at the polarity of viewpoints in this article. So a large number of Muslim women in Holland are battered and account for ''more than half of the women seeking abortion !!!!'' and Muslims live on the margins practicing their own repressive codes. Well, guess what: I am an Egyptian who has been living in Europe for more than 10 years and find that somewhat being a broad-brush description. Not all Muslims in Europe are crank-heads abusing their women and living in vaccum from society. Sure, there are those Muslims who give a bad image, mostly out of ignorance or political motivation (they get wider coverage). However, the majority are in Europe to make a living and are doing their best to be integrated within the wider society. Instead of people attacking, people should push for more measures for integration and multi-cultural understanding.

At 6/13/2005 12:53:00 PM, Blogger GNN Staff Writer said...

The conditions in the Netherlands will prove to the rest of Europe that only more pain and horrors await them unless serious changes are made in immigration policies.

My friends laughed when I predicted, at the time, that the murder of Van Gogh might lead indirectly to the death of the European Union. While it still may not happen, my friends are no longer laughing.

Stefania is responsible for me being here and I am quite impressed by what I read here. I am linking to your site from my blog and will encourage people to visit you. The best of luck to you and keep up your good work.

At 6/13/2005 12:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Change your idea of freedom'?

That's the problem. In the Netherlands, freedom is absolute - if I want to drink, drug up and buy a prostitute I can.

What these 'young educated Muslims' would want is the ability to STOP all that because they would be 'offended' by that.

The Netherlands do not and SHOULD not have to cater to Islam and its backward belief system. Multiculturalism is based on mutual respect. Imams should preach from their mosques about tolerance for Dutch values, even those that go against Islam.


Because those people that -are not- Muslim reject Islam as a path to God. Therefore all the moralizing that Muslims do about killing infidels and Gay people and people like Theo who 'insult' them only makes Islam look worse than it already does. Freedom is the freedom to -be- offensive, but not the freedom to kill those that offend.

In short, the Dutch will accept Muslims when the Muslims accept the rules of Dutch society as more important to Dutch people than Islam.

At 6/13/2005 02:26:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

Wow... Michael Jackson NOT GUILTY on any count. I'm amazed... but it was a weak case. Now maybe the news can cover something else at least :)

Hmmm.... the Dutch are in quite a dilemma, it's going to be interesting to see how things shake out for them. It seems to me that they are struggling with the old problem of ending a persons freedoms when they harm somebody else. It doesn't really seem so difficult to me.

At 6/13/2005 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Orientalism said...

I watchn tv like all of you now,wow jackson not guilty on all acounts, the best verdict money can buy.

SM by the way check ur mailz

At 6/13/2005 03:10:00 PM, Blogger Kat said...

I think the problem here is the difference between reaction of each side.

While there were some mosques burned and other threats against Muslims, it was actually the radical Islamists that acted out in violence. Couple that with other attacks that are directly related to extremist Islamists, it is generating fear.

I have to say that it is these groups that I cannot comprehend why they would move to Holland? I would love to hear one person espousing Islamist ideas in Holland explain why they moved there if the country does not represent how they want to live?

Is it strictly economics? Otherwise, why would one leave Saudi Arabia or Pakistan?

Everyone struggles to have their ideas heard. Again, the problem is that they cannot accept the status quo and want to change through violent means if necessary. No one is going to stand for that.

Of course, this isn't ALL muslims, but it is difficult to sort out people when there is no one group that is clearly rejecting the other. There is strength in nujmbers in the Ummah and that is how many people live their lives as this being more important than their personal thoughts on violent political activity.

At 6/14/2005 07:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I caught your interview via the Cotillion over at Stephania's Free Thoughts. Excellent! You MUST be a CIA agent. ;)

Re the Dutch feminists, it's encouraging that at least some of them have been mugged by reality:


Sissy Willis

At 7/26/2005 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can view some of Submission here. They were showing the whole thing, but were forced to take it down & now only show this portion of the film.


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