BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Dutch 'should be spoken in mosques'
Pim Fortuyn confronts demonstrators
The minister was a colleague of Pim Fortuyn
Islamic groups in the Netherlands have reacted angrily to a suggestion that only Dutch should be spoken in mosques.

The proposal - by a political colleague of the murdered anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn - came at the opening of a controversial new citizenship course for immigrant clerics.


We are born here, we speak Dutch: why do people not trust us?

A spokesman for a Dutch immigrants' group
The BBC's religious affairs reporter, Mark Duff, says the issue raises questions about how different faiths and values can coexist in today's culturally and racially mixed Europe.

The idea that only Dutch should be spoken in the Netherlands' approximately 450 mosques came in an off-the-cuff remark from the country's immigration minister, Hilbrand Nawijn.

Mr Nawijn told journalists that Muslim clerics had a duty to convince their fellow believers that they should be loyal to the values and norms of Dutch society.

He said the new citizenship course was needed to improve the integration of immigrants - and that he would be looking at how best to promote the speaking of Dutch in places of worship.

New law

Mr Nawijn also said he planned to propose a new law that any religious leader who failed the course would be denied a visa.

A spokeswoman for Mr Nawijn said his comments reflected his deepest wishes - but stressed that he had not spelt out whether ritual prayers as well as sermons should be in Dutch.

The new course - which is mandatory for all newly-arrived foreign clerics - includes lessons in Dutch society and language.

Among the issues it will address are freedom of speech and religion, euthanasia and non-discrimination.

European debate

Most sensitive of all is likely to be the question of sexuality - especially the place of women and homosexuals in society.

Mr Nawijn's mentor, the murdered - and gay - Pim Fortuyn, incensed many of the country's 800,000 Muslims by dismissing Islam's view on gays and women.

A spokesman for one immigrants' group said young Muslims in the Netherlands today felt victims of a new anti-Islamic political culture.

"We are born here, we speak Dutch: why do people not trust us?" he asked.

The debate has resonance across Europe, not least in Britain, where the minister responsible for immigration, Home Secretary David Blunkett, is on record as saying that immigrants need to learn how best to accommodate their own culture to life in Britain today.

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Europe
06 May 02 | Europe
16 May 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
06 May 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes