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Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Dutch gov’t reassures Turks of Muslims' rights"

Hürriyet's Daily News & Economic Review reports from a meeting between Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and a group of Turkish journalists. During the meeting, Rosenthal attempts to reassure Turks that the Netherlands does not discriminate against Muslims or against the nearly 400 000  in the country. He argues that, while the government relies on the backing of Geert Wilders' far right and Islamophobic Freedom Party, the party is not a formal coalition member precisely because of its position on Islam.

Somewhat awkwardly, Rosenthal states that
People who believe in Islam are entitled to go to the mosque. The only point that they have to take into account is that they should not go beyond the rule of law and the constitutional duties going with that..
One can only speculate about what he means by the latter caveat, but one gets the impression that Muslims in his view tend to "go beyond the rule of law" when they go to the mosque...

The article also quotes Rosenthal on the Dutch government's position on Turkey's EU bid:
“The principle of the Dutch government with regard to enlargement is strict and fair. We
keep to the strict conditions and criteria for entering the EU,” he said.
For Rosenthal, the disappointment for them was Turkey’s failure to implement the Ankara Protocol and the recognition of Cyprus. 
“That is the reason why eight chapters were frozen in 2006 and they should remain frozen,” he said, adding that he hoped Turkey would eventually implement the protocol.
While the Dutch people remain among the most supportive of Turkey's bid (60% favor membership once Turkey has met all conditions, according to the 2006 Eurobarometer 65.2 - only Swedes scored higher, at 69%), the common assertion of "strict and fair" conditions obscures as much as it clarifies. More on that in my forthcoming book.

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