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What to do with the Dubai sheikh

26 June 2007 - Middle Eastern sheikhs invest large sums of money in Dutch mosques in order to spread radical Islam, writer Fouad Laroui warned during a debate at the Rode Hoed yesterday night. Experts did not really know how to respond.

Last Sunday, Fatih Dag of Milli Görüs (MGT) told the Reporter TV programme that he is considering asking Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum from Dubai for money to build the Westermoskee. “Our first choice is to work with Dutch partners, but if that fails, we don’t rule out going to the Emirates”.

Chances that the Westermoskee will really be funded by petrodollars seem remote. For now, housing corporation Het Oosten is trying to buy MGT out of the project.

However, Laroui claimed that eleven out of twelve mosques in the Netherlands are funded by sheikhs, who want to spread their version of Islam. Especially Wahhabism, an orthodox branch of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia, would be active here.

Mohammed Cheppih objected that 95% of funding for Dutch mosques is paid by contributions from the faithful.

Cheppih spoke in a personal capacity. He failed to mention that he used to work for the Muslim World League, an organisation that is said to spread Wahhabism by subsidising mosques and schools across the world.

Some of the participants in the debate said that the government should give some sort of support to mosques, to prevent them becoming dependent on foreign funding. However, others said that the government should refrain from interfering in religious matters.

The latter group includes Paul Scheffer, the guru of the ‘multicultural drama’. He severely criticised the Amsterdam Municipality for trying to help the Westermoskee through a secret two million euro loan.

He did not really have an answer to the question how the Netherlands should then respond to Wahhabi interference. Laroui suggested accepting only imams who have been trained in the Netherlands.

A large part of the debate dealt with the freedom to apostate, an issue raised by Ehsan Jami’s new committee of ex-Muslims. Jami and his allies said the government was not doing enough to propagate this freedom. Minister Ronald Plasterk responded somewhat sullenly: “I am sitting here and I am propagating it”.

Meanwhile, the audience participated actively. They applauded when Islam was criticised, and made indignant noises when someone said something in its defence.

Illustration: Fouad Laroui (photo Bert Nienhuis)


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