Netherlands/Belgium news roundup

Stories from the last couple of weeks..

Netherlands: New Association for Dutch Ex-Muslims

A new association of ex-Muslims intends to deal with taboos in Islam, starting with the greatest taboo: leaving the faith. Loubna Berrada, administration member of the organization, left Islam seven years ago due to lack of affinity with the faith."Many Muslims don't practice their faith, but it is sensitive to step out. We want that whoever leaves Islam won't immediately get death threats."

Besides Berrada the administration is currently composed only of Ehsan Jami, alderman in Leidschendam-Voorburg who left Islam after the 9/11 attacks, but there are talks with other people who might get involved.

Ehsan Jami said that ex-Muslims in the Netherlands have to deal with serious threats if they openly declare they have left Islam. Death threats are not an exception. He says Islamic organizations should have more concern for freedom of religion.

The organization invites also non-Muslims to join, as long as they agree with the association goals: not to attack Islam itself but the abuse in it.

Sources: Elsevier (Dutch), Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch)

Netherlands: Moroccan Woman on the Career Path

According to Lesley Bijlsma, manager of the recruitment agency Oris Groep, the Moroccan woman is busy catching up with teh Dutch woman in making a career and occupying top positions. The Moroccan woman is highly educated, driven and gets to a high position faster than the Moroccan man. They are especially well represented in high positions in the service industry.

They expect to be judged based on their functioning and not on their being a woman or a Moroccan. They accept criticism and want to learn from their mistakes. In contrast to the Dutch feminists from the 60s and 70s they see their femininity as a strength rather than an impediment. She calls on employers to be pro-active in getting more Moroccan women as employees.

Source: ZIBB (Dutch)

Netherlands: Protest against Moroccan Name List

Moussa Aynan is starting a protest against the usage of a list of Moroccan approved names by Dutch city workers. If a Moroccan in the Netherlands chooses a name not approved by the Moroccan government, they will not be recognized by the Moroccan government and will not be able to get a passport.

Aynan is now calling on Moroccans to intentionally choose other names. He called his son Zacaria, and not Zakaria as approved by the Moroccans.

According to Cees Meesters of the utch Association For Citizens Affairs (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Burgerzaken) most municipalities use the list. It is advice meant as a service.

Source: NRC (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Moroccan babies get only names approved by Morocco

Netherlands: Internship in Morocco

Students in the Koning Willem I College in Den Bosch can now do their internship in Dutch companies in Morocco. The school hopes to cut down on the drop rate by students with a Moroccan background.

In the next years, up to 45 students could do their internship by 10-15 companies in Morocco. The Den Bosch municipality will support the project with 400 euro per intern, which will pay for travel and residence costs. The internship will last 3-6 months.

According to the school, immigrant youth have difficulties finding an internship place. "We don't want to differentiate or stigmatize, but an internship in Morocco can give them a boost," according to a spokesperson. Many Moroccan students drop out due to lack of motivation, and they hope to break that pattern.

Just like in the Netherlands, the interns must send in a report every two weeks. In Morocco the students will be supported by the Dutch Embassy in Rabat.

Source: (Dutch)

Netherlands: Four years for Threatening Politicians

Saïd A.B., a 26 year old from Rotterdam, was sentenced to four years in jail for threatening politicians. He had threatened Verdonk, Hirsi Ali and Wilders, among others. The court gave him a longer sentence than that requested by the public prosecution.

According to the court he tried to systematically make their work impossible, a crime which could maximally be punished with life in jail.

Source: RTL (Dutch)

Belgium: Third of Brussels Homosexuals threatened

A third of homosexuals in Brussels, regulation feel unsafe. They get especially verbal aggression, but one in ten also had to deal with physical violence.

The problems come up especially in the evenings and night in the areas of night-life places for homosexuals.

Victims usually respond by changing their behavior - keeping away from certain areas or of walking hand in hand with their partner. Most do not complain by the police.

Source: HLN (Dutch)

Belgium: Kurd attacked by Turks

A 19 year old Kurd, Mahmut Celiker,was attacked by three Turks in Sint-Joost-ten-Node. Celiker, who arrived in Belgium barely two montsh ago, was with his sister when a car approached. He was asked for his origins and when he answered wrongly he was hit with a jack. he was taken to a hospital.

According to police both sides provoked the other, but the version of each contradict the other. According to Info-Turk, a non-governmental site, the Turks accused the Kurd of being a member of the PKK and threatened to kill him.

Source: Azady (Dutch)

See also: Brussels: Tensions between Turks and Kurds

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