Netherlands: Anger at Israel, Jews, Dutch government

It seems like the entire Muslim community in the Netherlands got the notice Saturday via SMS or email.  Otherwise the message was picked up in the mosque: "Today, no shopping at Aldi and Lidl.  All sales returns of Jan 10, 2009 are going to Israel."

Though the Germany supermarket chains quickly denied the latter, nobody listened anymore.

The rumor spread throughout the Netherlands as quickly as an internet virus.  Muslims sent the message en masse to each other - from young to old, from moderate to fundamentalist. And many paid attention to it, although it is completely unclear who's the source, or why it must these companies specifically be a target.  The chains did not want to say whether they had less customers on Saturday.

"I doubted about the degree of truth, but it's better to be safe than sorry," says a Muslim woman from the Hague who got the message from at least ten people.

Yassin Elforkani, chairman of the Moroccan Imam Union (Marokkaanse Imam Bond), thinks it's unwise to accept such messages without thinking, but understands those who carried it out.  "Many feel anger and helplessness about the war in Gaza.  Such a boycott seems the least the you could do."

Various boycott lists are circulating on the internet.  Both in Turkey and the Turkish community in Europe people speak to each other about their shopping, says Ibrahim Yerden, of the University of Amsterdam.  "They ask about products from Europe or America whether or not a Jew happens to be behind it."

According to various spokespeople, a campaign for the Palestinian people is now conducted in the Dutch Muslim community like never before: demonstrations, silent marches and collecting money.  On Friday imams dedicates their sermons to Gaza.

But the anger is not being tone down by these protests, says Elforkani. He sees youth becoming more frustrated.  "They ask: 'what can I do? Demonstrating doesn't help'.  As imams we don't immediately know how we should handle this.  We can't say: It will all be well.  No, children are being murdered."

Also imam Abdul-Jabbar van de Ven, popular among orthodox Muslim youth, is seeing the emotions mounting.  "They're more concerned about Gaza than even Iraq and Afghanistan," he says.  "Youth speak open about Jihad.  In recent days Al Qaida will have gotten a lot of new recruits."

The anger is directed partially at the Dutch government, which claims that Israel has the right to protect itself.  In an open letter to Maxime Verhagen, eight youth and the action committee Amsterdam for Palestine called upon the minister of foreign affairs, to a "policy change which will do justice to the position of the Netherlands as host country for international judicial bodies'.  According to the signers the Netherlands may 'no longer side with Israel uncritically certainly not at the moment that Israel carries on in Gaza in this disproportional, inhuman way"

The government is hypocritical, says social worker Mohamed Azahaf, one of the letter writers.  "War criminals are tried in the Hague, but Israel is left in peace.  I saw just yesterday photos of children with bullet holes in their body."

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

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