Imams graduating assimilation course refuse to shake hands with Dutch woman minister handing them their diplomas
April 26, 2006
MIM: After the murder of Theo van Gogh Dutch Minister Ria Verdonk met with 50 Imams in order to discuss the situation. This proved quite difficult, in that many of the Imams who had spent decades in Holland were still not able to speak Dutch. When Verdonk extended her hand to one well known Imam, he refused to shake it, prompting Verdonk to respond "I see we will have a lot to talk about. The Imam assimilation course was set up at the behest of Minister Vedonk (integration and immigration) in order to teach Imams in Holland about Dutch culture and values. At the graduation which took place in one of the fanciest hotels in The Hague, Verdonk handed out the diplomas but several Imams refused to shake her hand. The entire episode was caught on video (see link below). The spectacle of the graduating Imams who grabbed their diplomas with one hand and snubbed Minister Verdonk epitomises the absurdity of the Dutch attempts to deal with radical Islam as if it were a question of etiquette.
"The first Imam who accepted his certificate from Minister Verdonk (Naturalisation and Immigration) refused to shake her hand. Other course participants also ignored the proferred hand of Verdonk." The policy maker concluded after the end of the ceremony in the chique Hotel Des Indes in The Hague that some people did not want to shake hands for religious reasons. But according to her is is about 'showing " a sign of respect' I am a woman and a minister. I am standing here as a minister.she said. 4/26/06
The Minister the Handshake and the Imam by Robert Chesal and the RN Internet desk 22-11-2004
Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has told Muslim clerics in the Netherlands that they need to assimilate into Dutch society. The minister, a member of the liberal-conservative VVD party, delivered her message in person at the weekend when she attended a meeting with some 50 imams, saying that she wished to continue her dialogue with them next year, only then in the Dutch language. She also called for the creation of a course in the Netherlands to train new imams. However, it was just one aspect of her meeting with the Muslim clerics that grabbed most of the headlines, namely her attempt to shake hands with one of the imams. The handshake was refused. I
The minister, the imam and the handshake
by Robert Chesal and the RN Internet desk
The minister, a member of the liberal-conservative VVD party, delivered her message in person at the weekend when she attended a meeting with some 50 imams, saying that she wished to continue her dialogue with them next year, only then in the Dutch language. She also called for the creation of a course in the Netherlands to train new imams.
However, it was just one aspect of her meeting with the Muslim clerics that grabbed most of the headlines, namely her attempt to shake hands with one of the imams. The handshake was refused.
In this interview with Radio Netherlands, political scientist Andre Krouwel of the Amsterdam's Free University says Ms Verdonk must have known her gesture would not be returned, and argues that she was playing politics, and for all the world to see:
"It's very clear that this government, or part of this government, at least her party the VVD, the party for freedom and democracy, has left the line of the multicultural society, and is now really confronting the Islamic part of the Dutch population with a more integrative model. People should adapt to Dutch society, should speak the language, should shake women's hands. So, clearly there's a huge shift in policy."
"Clearly, she tried to make a point. I am sure that since the Dutch government has been contact with imams and with people who are of Islamic convictions before, they've of course encountered imams who don't want to shake hand with women. So, I think she wanted to make a political point, saying 'you see, these people are not integrated, they don't speak my language, they don't know that women are equal to men.' I think she was trying to make a political statement, and a very forceful one, because this imam cannot shake the hand of a woman because of his religion."
RN: "Strict Muslims are not the only ones who can't shake hands with the opposite sex, are they?"
"No, exactly, and the whole idea in the Netherlands always used to be that you respect other people's convictions, you don't try to convert people to your convictions. You try to basically not force your own ideas and visions of society on others. And clearly that path of a sort of consensus democracy, whereby you give each group autonomy within its own circle, has gone, at least for the VVD."
RN: "You are really emphasizing the role of this one party. There has been talk of split in the cabinet between those seeking reconciliation and those who want confrontation. Is this a deepening split now?"
"It is splitting, dividing the government, because the other main party in the government is the Christian Democrat party, who of course cannot go down this confrontation route. They can't say all religious groups should now lose their autonomy, cannot have their own schools, should be integrated into Dutch society and all be the same. They can't say that because also there are very conservative Protestants who don't allow women access, for example, to politics. There's even a party with two seats in parliament that sort of argues that women have a secondary role in society, and do not allow women to have power in politics within their own party. So if the Christian Democrats go in that direction, they will lose part of their own electorate and, of course, they will lose the right to funding for their own Christian schools."
RN: "Immigration Minister Verdonk has been insisting on dialogue with the imams, and also to speak in the Dutch language. But this whole meeting at the weekend, how do you think that the Muslim community will have received her message?"
"Clearly it is for them more evidence that this government, or at least part of this government, is on a collision course, and wants to make the integration issue or immigration issue - these things are constantly confused - the main issue in the next elections, which might come soon, because there are problems within the government, and the VVD seems to be on a constant campaign against Islam. And I think it is because Pim Fortuyn, the politician who was shot in the 2002 election, showed that with this issue you can gain 20 to 30 seats in a 150-seat parliament. Clearly this is an issue that you can use, and is politically very advantageous to political parties. And the VVD which has lost a lot of seats and is looking very bad in the opinion polls are, of course, trying to get these seats back. And I think that is exactly what Verdonk is doing, she is doing politics and she is doing it very well, I think, and we will soon see electoral success coming to the VVD."
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