Watching a tense story unfold in the Netherlands

NetherlandsThis is one of those tense stories that doesn’t require commentary.

The question is whether this report from Expatica in the Netherlands will draw much attention from mainstream media and human-rights groups on this side of the Atlantic.

Let’s just start at the beginning, with an early public call for the closing of a powerful mosque. The Dutch Parliament has been debating the activities and the future of the El Tawheed mosque.

Why would leaders in such a live-and-let-live culture do such a thing?

MPs want Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk to explain what they intend to do about the book “De weg van de moslim.”

The publication — translated as “The Way of the Muslim” in English — is said to advocate violence against women and killing gay people. Gay people should be thrown head first off high buildings. If not killed on hitting the ground, they should then be stoned to death, the book allegedly suggests.

This episode follows an earlier controversy about a book entitled “Fatwas of Muslim Women,” which critics say teaches that women who do not tell the truth should recieve 100 blows and that the “husband’s duty of care for his wife is negated if she refuses him sex or leaves the home without his permission.” It also calls for Muslim girls to be circumcised.

Some Dutch politicians want “The Way of the Muslim” banned, if the accusations about its contents are true. Adding to the tensions, a cameraman was assaulted at the mosque when journalists tried to buy the book. The Expatica report noted that a “female reporter managed to buy the book, albeit while accompanied by police protection.”

The key question: Will Islamic religious leaders openly reject the book’s contents?

The debate continues and there is little or no sign of coverage in U.S. media, other than a few web sites — such as In an update from Expatica, officials at the mosque say they are the victims of negative stereotypes.

Officials at the mosque pointed out the book is available from many outlets in the Netherlands. … The mosque denied its clerics preached hate and instead spread a message of peace and forbade oppression.

“El Tawheed therefore does not call for extremism, violence or violation of Dutch law,” it said.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Jeff Sharlet @ The Revealer

    Hats off again for bringing forward an important and neglected story. One quibble: Why is the key question whether Islamic religious leaders will denounce the book? Islam does not work like the Catholic church, with a clear chain of command. Should Ayotallah Sistani denounce the book? What would that mean to its author? (Nothing at all, I suspect.) The same is true of Christianity. I have many of Christian books advocating violence against various despised groups. If Billy Graham had spent all his time denouncing them, he’d never of had time to write his own. And what would have been the point? Believers in such means will continue to believe in them.

    “Will the leaders denounce this or that vile notion?” is an example of religion journalism press think. I don’t think it has much to do with how religion exists in the world. It’s the kind of symbolism that plays well in a newspaper, and probably not much more.

  • Marinda R.

    I had a similar reaction; whose key question is it? Expatica’s, the Dutch Parliament’s, or Terry Mattingly’s?

  • Tmatt

    I should have made that clearer: This was the PARLIAMENT’S big question. There have been calls to actually expel clerics from the country if they do not denounce such material.