[OPE] The "Islamic threat" in Holland: mosques save the Dutch taxpayer 150 million euro

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Thu Mar 19 2009 - 16:32:13 EDT

This news item caught my eye.

Utrecht, 19 March 2009: Investigators of the Dutch ecumenical foundation Oikos http://www.stichtingoikos.nl/ , which researches poverty and development issues, have concluded that the activities of mosques save Dutch society more than 150 million euro a year.

They researched 16 mosques for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and calculated that by providing social services, they saved the Dutch state coffers 5.2 million euro, while the state in its turn subsidizes jobs in those mosques with only 200,000 euro.

Since there are 475 mosques in Holland for a population of one million Muslims (as compared with about 10,000 or so christian churches, with 648 denominations), the total savings are estimated at more than 150 million euro.

In the 16 mosques which were researched by Oikos, Islamic professionals and volunteers spent more than 270,000 working hours on activities beneficial to the community, ranging from language lessons, other educational and children's group activities, financial advice, personal and family counselling, art exhibitions, fashion shows, funeral services, visiting seniors and ill people, and women's groups... to fitness classes, sports competitions, apprenticeship referrals, creating jobs for ex-prisoners, excursions etc.

Well, so much for the hate-mongering "crusader" ideas of Mr George W. Bush http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/0919/p12s2-woeu.html and Mr Geert Wilders http://www.geertwilders.nl/ , according to which there is always an Islamic terrorist hiding under your bed...

The problem of bourgeois thought after the collapse of official communism was that there was no clear evil enemy anymore. But there has to be one - after all, the Pentagon employs about a million people, most of them in non-combat roles, and it has a budget equal in size to the GDP of the Netherlands, or Australia. The EU component of NATO also has an enormous budget. http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2003/issue2/english/statistics.html http://www.sipri.org/contents/milap/milex/mex_database1.html

To justify all that military spending, there's got to be an enemy, a kind of enemy that unites the rich conservative classes, and disunites the poor. Hence the vague stories about a sinister bunch of terrorists, conspiracies, fundamentalists, extremists, religious fanatics and other "ists" who exist out there without you actually being able to see them, but who could strike anywhere at any moment for any reason. Never mind millions of humans dying like flies from malnutrition, poverty, pollution, hunger and disease in societies which are disintegrating.

The worst thing about Geert Wilders's hate campaign is that it changes absolutely nothing, beyond pissing a lot of people off, since if you are raised in a particular religion, that is what influences your values and it is unlikely that you are going to change all of that, or any of that, it would be like disrespecting who you are, disrespecting part of your own identity.

In other words, if you are e.g. Muslim or a Christian, and somebody says your religion is wrong, this is unlikely in most cases to cause you to drop your religion. All it does is to increase intolerance, by uniting people against what they hate, rather than positively around what they are for. And, of course, religions thrive on persecution, as they say. So the point there is, that you cannot expect Muslims to stop being Muslims, just because Geert Wilders doesn't like it. They're still going to be there, and they're still going to be Islamic, no matter how many times you jump up and down.

The other terrible thing is, that simply from the fact that a person is e.g. a Muslim or a Christian, you cannot infer very much about the characteristics of the person anyway. So, by crudely classifying people according to their religious belief, the reality of who those people actually are, disappears. Effectively, by attaching this sort of label and implying a stigma, real people are dehumanized.

By the time you are afraid of a religion, of course you've lost the plot altogether.

So why does Geert Wilders scoop up such a lot of votes in the Netherlands? Well, it has nothing to do with any real Islamic threat, but with the insecurity, racism and incompetence of the Dutch conservatives themselves. It is a kind of moral panic, with a strong racist dimension. Dutch society, which often has very warped ideas about freedom and social responsibility, is unable to solve many of its own cultural problems and contradictions, because it is, actually, profoundly insecure about its own identity and morality, and it projects that insecurity on others. The postmodernist, pornographic massmedia waffle often drowns out any intelligent debate.

The "scary" thing about the Muslims, apart from the fact that they can communicate in a language Dutch people cannot understand, is that they DO have an identity, a Muslim identity. And that also makes Muslims an easy target. But, actually, the most striking characteristic of the Islam-haters is simply that they are, on principle, generally unwilling to have any kind of meaningful contact or dialogue with Islamic people, who, in turn, often stick pretty much to themselves. If they did, a lot of the Islamophobia would disappear, and the substance of human problems could then be discussed. But, generally, that is exactly what is being avoided.


ope mailing list
Received on Thu Mar 19 16:35:21 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT