Sharia Law and the Netherlands
Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has provoked an angry response by stating it has to be possible for Sharia Law to be introduced in the Netherlands via democratic means.
The Christian Democrat (CDA) minister made the suggestion during an interview for the book 'Het land van haat en nijd' (the land of hate and malice) which was published on Wednesday.
Donner indicated he was not happy with the tone of the integration debate in the Netherlands.
Muslims, he said, just like Protestants and Roman Catholics, have a right to the perceptions of their religion, even if that included dissenting rules of behaviour such as imams refusing to shake hands with women.
He went on to say: "It must be possible for Muslim groups to come to power [in the Netherlands] via democratic means. Every citizen may argue why the law should be changed, as long as he sticks to the law.
"It is a sure certainty for me: if two thirds of all Netherlanders tomorrow would want to introduce Sharia, then this possibility must exist. Could you block this legally? It would also be a scandal to say 'this isn't allowed!
"The majority counts. That is the essence of democracy."
His remarks are contrary to the stance taken by MP Maxime Verhagen, leader of the CDA in parliament. Verhagen had expressed concern Sharia Law could be introduced in city districts where Muslims are already in the majority.
Right-wing MP Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom has posed written questions to Donner.
Wilders said Donner should be defending Dutch norms and values and resisting the introduction of "barbarous Sharia Law" in the Netherlands. The minister will face a motion of no confidence if he sticks to his views, Wilders warned.
Labour (PvdA), the largest opposition party, has also expressed surprise at Donner. MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Donner seemed to be forgetting that several points of Sharia Law are in conflict with the Dutch Constitution. "The Minister for Justice must invest his energies in opposing these sorts of opinions rather than signalling that such ideas can form part of our democracy," Dijsselbloem said.
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