Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dutch Muslims Encouraged to Vote on EU Constitution

Nasreddine Djebbi:

Boujoufi said the European Constitution guarantees the religious freedom and protects the social and cultural rights of the minorities

Leading Muslim activists in The Netherlands have encouraged fellow Dutch Muslims to make their voices hard in the July vote on the European Constitution, falling short of sponsoring a specific position.

"What is important is for Dutch Muslims to cast their ballot, rather than say "yes" or "no" to the European constitution," Dris Boujoufi, the deputy chairman of the council of Muslim representatives in the Netherlands, told

"We need to get used to vote and do our duties as Dutch citizens," he asserted.

Boujoufi went on: "The European Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship and protects the social and cultural rights of the minorities."

He stressed, however, that they are not appealing to the Muslim minority to adopt a specific position.

"It is up to each Muslim to take such a decision to serve his own interest we are simply encouraging Dutch Muslims to vote," said the activist.

Less than one week before the referendum, polls show that Dutch voters who reject the European Constitution have the edge over those likely to vote "yes".

The nationwide referendum is consultative and non-binding, as the Dutch legislature will ultimately decide whether or not to ratify the proposed body of law.

The Netherlands is home to almost one million Muslims or six percent of the population.

The Netherlands chapter of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe , for its part, is not only encouraging Dutch Muslims to vote but also to say "yes" to the European Constitution.

"We go for the Muslim participation in the referendum and support for the constitution to overcome narrow-minded nationalism which negatively affects Muslims," Yahya Bouyafa, the chapter's chairman, told IOL.

"A unified Europe will better protect the interests of Muslims and assimilate ethnic groups," said Bouyafa, who hails from Moroccan origin.

Mustapha Arab, the director of the Arabic section of The Hague national library, also rallied for backing the European Constitution.

"Voting in favor of the constitution serves the interests of both Muslim minorities and foreigners."

The activist, who also has Moroccan origin, said the European Constitution will be a reference to judge the policies of European countries.

"We need an authority to resort to rein in rising xenophobia in Europe and the European constitution and parliament will be that authority."

So apparently Muslims believe that the EU constitution will be good for Muslims already living in Europe and for those who want to move there. Personally, I think that is just one more reason to vote against it.

"Eurarabia" and Freedom of Expression


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