Not a policy goal

Dutch parliament, in the form of the Second Chamber, adopted a peculiar motion. One that may be more significant then would appear at first reading.

The last two days saw the General Considerations debate. Normally that is held immediately after was Prinsjesdag (Budget Day). But this year Prinsjesdag, always on the third Tuesday of September, fell right in the middle of the negotiations for a formation of a new cabinet. Hence it was decided to postpone the GC debate, until there was a new cabinet.

Inevitably, this years GC debate was used a an opportunity to get acquainted with the new, 'Danish', cabinet and for the opposition to (try to) shoot holes in the plans of the new government. In this they were hardly successful.

Much was made of the fact that Geert Wilders and the PVV have the ear of the new cabinet, what with their formal support, without being actually responsible for policy. Additionally, there is some discrepancy in the way the PVV explain the immigration curbing measures of the new cabinet (halting islamization) and the way the Danish cabinet explains the measures (stopping the flow of under-educated, unemployable immigrants).

In light of this discrepancy, the Motion Halsema (32 417, nr. 36) calls upon the government to carry out 'in word and action' the message that countering islamization is not a policy goal of this government. The motion carried (NL), with only the PVV and the SGP (Dutch Reformed splinter party) in opposition.

Now, there's two ways in which this motion can be understood. The vast majority of parliament is still committed to anti-discrimination, even in the face of pragmatic objections. At first sight, and probably what was intended, the motion tries to ensure the government will not single out islam when making policies with regard to curbing immigration or cracking down on inner city problems.

However, such subtlety is probably lost on members of both sides of the issue. The wording of the motion is such that both sides will understand the motion literally: Curbing the islamization of Holland is not policy, period. Parliament is prohibiting any attempt by the government to roll back the ever more persistent encroaching of shariah and other more physical manifestations of islam, even when such is overruling and/or replacing traditionally Dutch values and mores.

It is a stab in the back of Dutch non-muslims living in areas where muslims are increasingly laying down their law, their way of viewing the world. Indeed, that is how Het Vrije Volk (NL) understands the motion, concluding that what *is* government policy is giving muslims a free pass, where others are denied such.

Whatever else you can say about the issue: the broad support in parliament for the Halsema motion has sent a rather unfortunate signal. One that will come back to haunt us, I fear.

[UPDATE001] Willem de Zwijger (NL) rings up another good point: GroenLinks (Green Left) of which Femke Halsema is the leader has always advocated gay and gender issues. How come they are all of sudden defending the faith that denigrates both?

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