Creeping Sharia: Netherlands tax funded ‘halal homes’ ignite religious row

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Renovations in Amsterdam apartments – nicknamed “halal homes” in the press – have sparked a political row in the Netherlands.

About 180 apartments in Amsterdam have been given special makeovers which suit the wishes of Muslim residents. Features include individual taps that can be used for ritual cleansing before prayers and sliding doors to keep men and women apart.

Some right-wing politicians have been stirring up public opposition, warning that anyone asking for such modifications should “leave for Mecca”.

From the outside, the apartments look no different from other social housing blocks in the residential area of Bos and Lommer, in the less opulent western reaches of the capital.

Aynur Yildrim gives a tour of her home with the enthusiasm of an inspired estate agent. In the bathroom she bends to reveal the lowered water point – a modification that, in some variation, might equally exist in non-religious homes. But it is the perceived religious aspect of these changes that has made them so controversial.

And it is in the tidy kitchen that the distinction is most striking, as Ms Yildrim shows off the sliding doors.

“I wanted a closed kitchen, in order to be able to close the kitchen off now and then for a bit more privacy. Sometimes we like to be separated, the women on one side and the men on the other.”

Wim de Waard of the housing association Eigen Haard insisted that the changes were “absolutely not religiously inspired – they are just practical adaptations”. The adaptations followed consultations with local residents, including Muslim groups.

Mr de Waard stressed that apartments were not reserved for Muslims – homes were assigned on the basis of rank on the waiting list, size of household and income.

Wilders outraged

For many Dutch people, living in a historically tolerant and liberal country, the idea of separating men and women has led to some criticism that these buildings are effectively condoning some kind of gender inequality.

The controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders accused the Dutch authorities of subsidising a “medieval gender apartheid”.

For many Dutch people, living in a historically tolerant and liberal country, the idea of separating men and women has led to some criticism that these buildings are effectively condoning some kind of gender inequality.

The controversial anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders accused the Dutch authorities of subsidising a “medieval gender apartheid”.

He has publicly prophesied about an impending “ghettoisation” of Dutch neighbourhoods – not unusually strong words from a man who once appeared in court for his strident rhetoric. Mr Wilders was cleared of inciting religious hatred two years ago.

After a poor performance in recent parliamentary elections, Mr Wilders may be angling to woo immigration-conscious right-wing voters again with his strong, headline-grabbing statements. Recent opinion polls suggest that if there were to be an election tomorrow, his Freedom Party (PVV) would win.

A Dutch property developer and PVV supporter said he was “shocked” by the “halal homes” concept.

“It’s a ridiculous idea, I thought it was a joke,” he complained.

“It turns into reality. The rules of the Koran are discrimination, it is stimulating discrimination. It’s taking us back to medieval times.”

“These immigrants are from lower social classes, they’re not educated, they’re bringing those values to our Dutch society – the opposite should happen, they should adapt to our modern and free values.

We should teach them to integrate. This is backwards. What if it were on buses? If we were to separate men and women on buses it would be like discrimination again, here in the Netherlands. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it. It frightens me.”

Using tax revenue

But many residents in the area seem to accept that what their neighbours do in the privacy of their own homes is entirely up to them.

Tess Duijghuisen lives in the same block and said: “A lot of new people arrived here lately, a lot of young people like me, so trust me, there’s no problem of ghettoisation.

“And there are a lot of exchanges between people from all nationalities, which makes life much nicer here.”

On internet forums, some users have made light of the renovations, with comments such as, “I believe in the power of disco, please can I have a disco ball built into my apartment?”

When I asked Dutch followers on Twitter why the opposition, they told me “it’s wrong that inequality should be subsidised by tax money” and that another country’s traditions “may be offensive to others”.

It is a debate over the public versus private spaces. When the public purse is used to part-fund modifications, which many see as the religious antithesis of traditional Dutch society, conflict emerges.

Public funding is actually in the form of a guarantee, the housing association says. Yet it is still perceived as a subsidy.

The housing association says the complex is completely mixed, that the homes have been renovated to improve their “rentability” and that it is just trying to keep everyone happy. Many would argue that that is a tough ambition to fulfil – whether in religion, politics or our private lives.

 

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Suspecting terrorism, villagers force out boarding school

 

Residents of a village in East Java’s Nganjuk Regency forced the closure of a school run by little-known Muslim group the Joint Islamic Society (Gabungan Masyarakat Islam or Gamis), fearing it prepares its students for terrorism.

 

The school, Pondok Pesantren Darul Akhfiyah, had 49 teenage students at the time of its closing in mid-November, and had been in the town of Kepuh in Kertosono sub-district for two years.

To date, police have not confirmed whether the school had any link to terrorism, though its director was arrested for possessing multiple identity cards. But its military-style exercise programmes and its lack of communication with the community made residentssuspicious.

“They always kept to themselves; so we did not know their exact identities,” Didik, a 45-year-old Kepuh resident, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

“All this time, the pesantren has been shut off from the people around it,” added Parto, 50, who lives across the street from the now-shuttered school.

Suspicious activities?

Residents went to the school en masse on November 11th to put a stop to its activities. Police swiftly intervened, evacuating the entire student body to the local police station for questioning.

In a search of the facility – a rented home – police found air rifles, knives, and other weapons, as well as books and a CD about jihad, according to the chief of the East Java Regional Police, Hadiatmoko.

“The knives usually were used to practice knife-throwing. They threw knives into trees behind the house. They practiced it every evening,” he said.

In addition, students ran in the village before dawn, and practiced martial arts on the banks of the Brantas River, according to Budiarso, 66, head of the neighbourhood watch.

Locals had long ago reported their concerns about the group to the police, who had in fact been monitoring the school for six months before tensions came to a head.

But law enforcement officials could not yet say whether the community’s suspicions are legitimate.

“We have reported this incident to the Indonesian Police Headquarters. So, to find out whether Gamis is related to terrorism, we are awaiting further investigation from police headquarters,” Hadiatmoko said.

We are not terrorists

Sensing the potential for an outbreak of violence, police held the students at the Nganjuk Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), where Khabar visited them on November 14th.

Khoirul, an 18-year-old-student, defended his classmates, saying that none of the school’s activities were focused on jihad.

“We are not terrorists. We are in Darul Akhfiyah to learn the Qur’an,” he said.

Khoirul said he was sent by his parents in East Java’s Tulungagung Regency to study at Darul Akhfiyah. He found nothing strange about it, including the martial arts component.

“Martial arts is a sport,” he said. “So, it’s not something strange.”

Jito, his 19-year-old classmate, said martial arts is only for exercise and a change of pace.

“The main activity is memorising the Qur’an. And martial arts provides a balance between the physical and spiritual,” he said.

“Definitely, we are not terrorists,” Jito added.

Later on November 14th, police released the students and told them to return to their respective homes, officials said.

School director arrested

In a statement through his lawyer, the head of the school Nasirudin Ahmad, 34, a native of Sukoharjo, Solo, defended Darul Akhfiyah.

“We do not teach terrorism, only religion and martial arts, like other pesantren,” he said.

But Nasirudin was subsequently arrested for having four different identity cards, Hilman Thayib, spokesman for the East Java Regional Police, told Khabar.

“He is a suspect, and we’ll detain him. We’re digging to find out why he has four ID cards with different names, not just different addresses,” Thayib said.

Nasirudin’s lawyer, Achmad Rofiq, confirmed to Khabar that his client was taken into custody for questioning about his identity cards and could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in jail if found guilty of having multiple IDs.

Campus Racism: Students cite racist encounters in push for Asian cultural center

more incidents of racism from privileged, sheltered racist white students who grew up in segregated areas, acting out the racism they see in Hollywood and network tv.

also did these racist students recently watched the red dawn remake?

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Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 2:52 pm, Sun Dec 2, 2012.

BY JAKE SOHN Staff Reporter

A Purdue student ponders if being an Asian is wrong.

Students are speaking out against the hidden racism at Purdue after many have experienced racially biased incidents. Faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students have come together to form a steering committee to draft a petition to ask Purdue to build an Asian and Asian-American cultural center.

Asian-American Association vice president Victoria Loong, a junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences, said she knows she wouldn’t see the building by the time she graduates, but she thinks it’s about setting the infrastructure for future students to follow up on.

Hana Lee, a PhD student in the College of Liberal Arts, teaches Asian American studies. Lee said it’s important for students to identify themselves and not let others identify them.

“Instead of making assumptions about who people are, their identities and from where they come based on their appearances, we should allow individuals to identify themselves,” Lee said. “To impose an identity on another silences them and in fact erases their individuality.”

The petition for the establishment of Asian and Asian-American Resource Center has been circulating on Facebook and, as of Monday, it had garnered more than 1,600 votes.

Many Asian and Asian-American students have reported they have witnessed or been a victim of bias and prejudice, including Stacey Liu, a sophomore in the School of Management. Liu said adjusting to her college life in America was difficult at first, and that experiencing these events certainly did not help.

“Whenever I’m out with my friends at a party or a social gathering, most people will refer to me as the Asian girl,” Liu said. “They’ll stretch their eyes apart and tell me they look like me and make assumptions about my heritage.”

Monica Trieu, an assistant professor of Asian-American studies, said these types of problems result from a lack of awareness from students.

“This is a multi-level problem that stems from a lack of awareness and education,” Trieu said. “To clump the two groups into a singular identity and category is a commonly made mistake because there is an absolute lack of awareness, education and acknowledgement on campus.”

In March, a Twitter account ridiculing Asian and Asian-American students on campus sparked a bit of controversy. Many students contacted Purdue officials to ask to have the account permanently shut down.

Christy Jones, a digital marketing specialist at Purdue, told students to ignore the tweets and stop paying attention to them because they’ll probably just stop.

Lee, however, said University officials should have been more firm on the matter.

“Such a response from the University officials and faculty does concern me,” Lee said. “The University cannot and should not remain silent about racism that makes its students feel unsafe and uncomfortable on the campus that they call home.”

Liu said it can be embarrassing being the target of hateful words.

“It can be really humiliating at times to know that some people will never look past the color of your skin,” Liu said. “I sometimes start to wonder if there is something wrong with being an Asian.”