Archive for April, 2011

political nightmare: PVV-SGP alliance ahead

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

PVV, the Dutch far right party. Openly against Islam. Very negative about the allochtoons (foreigners, immigrants, especially the non-western ones) in the country. 24 seats in the parliament. Supports the minority government from outside, especially on economic issues.

SGP (Reformed Political Party, Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij), fundamentalist Christian party. Highly controversial. Openly against homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia because they are all sin. Also against Muslims. Reject women as MPs. Wants the abolishment of Equal Treatment Commission. No more mosques and minarets. And two seats in parliament. Although not a part of the government, they have a crucial role, (especially in the First Chamber/Upper House/Eerste Kamer). Their approval may be necessary for the government when some controversial laws are getting through the senate.

Nowadays, those two parties are winking at each other.

There is a discussion in the parliament on the regulation of sunday shoppings. In the Netherlands, shops are closed on Sundays, unless they are not situated in highly touristic areas. Shops are only open on Sunday afternoons in 12 weeks a year, which means once in a month. Liberal parties want to change this rule and give the right of regulation to local authorities, instead of a national control by the parliament. However, Christian parties and the Socialists are against this, for different reasons. The former is for religious reasons, as Sunday is the day to rest and pray for Christians, the latter is for ideological reasons, to prevent the exploitation of workers. All other parties are in favor of local regulation of sunday shopping. However, the PVV is confused again 🙂 They declared that they are not going to support the efforts to allow local authorities decide about Sunday trading, although they think that “shopkeepers should have a free choice”. This is just because they do not want “to risk damaging the coalition”. And a PVV MP admits : “We need [the SGP] support in the upper and lower houses of parliament. It is both desirable and necessary to keep the political alliance intact to improve the Netherlands and the corporate climate.”

Keeping this political alliance intact? Corporate climate? Are we living in the same country with that MP?

If shops remain closed on Sundays, the SGP promises to cooperate with the government in other controversial issues. But only in a Christian manner,”maar dan wel op een christelijke manier”. What a trade-off!

Another issue the PVV and the SGP is about to cooperate is the organization of an aid convoy for Gaza, Palestine. Some Dutch NGOs have organized a humanitarian aid ship for Gaza and in a couple of weeks the ship will take off to Turkey, then to Palestine. The PVV calls the government to insist on Turkey to prevent the ship for the protection of international peace. (If you are still not aware of this, I want to highlight the international peace we have on earth. As you know, Israel and Palestine are in peace, everything is great in Libya, there is some noise in Bahrein and Syria but everything will be okay soon. Ivory Coast? They are not a part of “the international”, let them do the things the way they want.) The major supporter of the PVV on this Gaza convoy issue are the Christian parties, the SGP and the CU (Christian Union).

The relationship between the SGP and the PVV were not that friendly in the past. In November 2010, the SGP leader Kees van der Staaij made statement criticizing the PVV about its MPs, who had involved in some criminal acts in the past. He complains about ‘PVV troubles'(PVV-perikelen) for endangering the stability of government. According to him, those PVVers who acted immorally should resign.  In the statement he says:

“In het debat heb ik er zelf bewust voor gekozen om weg te blijven van de onderlinge schermutselingen en het politieke steekspel. Namens de SGP heb ik vooral het algemene morele punt vooropgesteld.  Kamerleden moeten van onbesproken gedrag zijn. Als dat niet zo is, dan schaadt dat het aanzien van het parlement als geheel en dan slaat dat een deuk in de geloofwaardigheid van de fracties die zij vertegenwoordigen. Voor heel veel mensen in het land raakt dit ook de betrouwbaarheid van “de politiek”.”

Roughly translated by google as:

“In the debate I have self-consciously chosen to stay away from the clashes between them and the political jousting. On behalf of the SGP, I mainly general moral point provided. MPs must be of impeccable character. If it is not, harms the reputation of the parliament as a whole and then hits a dent in the credibility of the groups they represent. For many people in this country affects the reliability of “politics”.”

And the PVV, I can imagine, might have not liked those fundamentalist Christians calling them ‘immoral’.

Now, the SGP and the PVV are becoming very close friends.. How come?

Ends justify the means, as Machiavelli says in his book, Prince. All kinds of means are permissible to reach a certain end. Both parties are acting in accordance with this Machiavellian rule. Politics (i.e. the modern, corrupt, so-called democratic politics) requires this. You do not have never-changing principles, but conditional ones.

Now, curiously waiting for the outcomes of those strategic alliances between crazy parties..


sham Turks and the real Turks

April 17, 2011 1 comment

“Hocam, what do you think of the Turks here (in the Netherlands)?”, asked one of my students during the course break. Well, of course I do think many things, but at that moment I could not come up with a general sentence. “In what sense?”, I asked. “In every sense”, said she. “But, like what?”, I insisted. “They are all awful (she used the Turkish word ‘berbat’), aren’t they? In every sense of the word.” I was a bit surprised, “what you mean?”. “They are awful, their Turkish is awful, everything is awful, isn’t it?”. “No,” I said, “I know many people, who have excellent command of Turkish, they do speak very properly”. “But mine is awful” she said. And I said “come on, your Turkish is not that awful”.  Indeed her Turkish is better than her peers, she speaks and reads really well compared to others in the class.

Then, “the ones in Turkey are real Turks, but we are sham Turks, (she uses the word ‘çakma Türk here), aren’t we?” she said. Oh? That was quite unexpected. I stopped for a moment, could not find a nice answer. Only thing I could say was, in Turkish,  “olur mu canim öyle sey?”. I do not know how to translate, it could be something like “come on, are you kidding?”. It was a weird moment. Then, she continued, “but the Turks here are more attached to their religion, aren’t they?”. Well, it is also debatable. It depends. “Maybe,” I replied “at least they look so”.

What is a ‘real Turk’, what is the difference between a ‘real Turk’ and a ‘sham Turk’, is it bad not being a ‘real Turk’? Or what it means to be more attached to the religion, how do you understand that one is attached to his/her religion, why do you think Turks here are more attached to their religion? Those were the questions that came to my mind as she was talking. But I preferred not to ask.

I have just googled the word “sham Turk” and found a very interesting document about ‘sham Turks’ in Paris. It was published in New York Times in 1878. According to that letter, you can tell “the real Turk at glance”, looking at his “scarlet fez and black surcoat”. Here is a copy of it.

banning halal and kosher

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Netherlands is seriously discussing the ban of ritual/religious slaughtering of animals. This ban will also cover the importation of ritually slaughtered meat from other countries. Tough, ha?

The ban is now being debated in the parliament. The proposal of the ban first came from the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren). They argue that when animals are slaughtered without being stunned, they feel more stress and severe pain, and this is against the animal rights. Okay, there is freedom of religion in the country, but that should not violate the rights of animals, they say. Many parties are in favor of the ban. Only Christian parties are against it. The Labour (PvdA), the liberals (VVD and D66), the Greens (GL) all support it.. There is large muslim electorate in the country, I wonder why none of them take that fact into account.

Surprisingly, the PVV is divided. I am pretty sure that if this ban was only about Muslims, they would be the first to support. But, fortunately (!) Jews would also be affected from the ban. And the PVV is divided now. Some PVVers are in favor of the ban, some are against.

An MP from the PVV says that he cannot support this ban because, the first anti-Jewish measures taken in the Netherlands during World War II was a ban on ritual slaughter. What a weird political position is that? He remembers the atrocities of WWII and is clearly aware of how they began. He knows that symbolic bans and cases of discrimination led to mass killings during the war. However, he (at least his party) does not show the same sensitivity towards foreigners (or more specifically Muslims or allochtonen) in the country. His party is openly against Muslims in the country and has proposed many anti-Muslim measures. He can respond to my criticism saying that Jews are a part of Europe than Muslims, Europe has a Judeo-Christian cultural tradition etc. I don’t but that. Jews had always been excluded, they were always discriminated against, and the Holocaust was the peak of this hatred. Judaism has only become a part of European tradition only after Holocaust.

While there is a double standard in the eyes of some PVVers, Muslim and Jewish organizations came together and a signed a declaration against the ban. In the statement they claim that there are also other scientific studies showing that ritual slaughtering without stunning is less painful for the animals. So, before the ban is discussed in the parliament, they should have taken those counter evidence into account, they say. They are indeed right. But I find this position a bit problematic, especially for religiously motivated organizations. They base their arguments on scientific research, as the PvD does. Let’s assume that it is scientifically proven that ritual slaughtering is more painful for animals. What would those religious organizations say then? Would they say, ‘okay, if it is scientifically painful for animals, then we give up kosher or halal’? Muslims (and also Jews in this case) should also know how to defend their position from a non-scientific perspective.

thesis, procrastination, new method and roadmap

April 13, 2011 2 comments

conditional logistic regression.. this is the new method i should be using for my thesis. but i have no idea what it is like. i also have some new control variables. that means i should have a new dataset to recode all the relevant variables and to impute. okay, i have already the syntax for imputation and recoding, but it takes time to run all the commands, still a burden, and most importantlyit is boring, terribly boring.. not to mention the efforts to learn the conditional logistic regression, aka coxreg..

my things never go right. all kinds of exceptional things happen to me. if everything was okay with my hypotheses, theory and method, i would have finished this masters without ever hearing about this conditional logistic thing. (okay, i still have a paper to write, but i assume i am gonna write it soon.)

now, the plan is:
thursday: make the dataset ready for the analyses and learn more about the coxreg thing
friday: run the coxreg and learn how to interpret.
weekend: report the results.

p.s.:special thanks goes to a special friend who made my day, being a great company and sharing a delicious chocolate with me 😉

Categories: diary

on zulm (oppression) with students

April 13, 2011 2 comments

Almost two weeks ago, during the Turkish class at the mosque, I asked my students to write about “zulm/dhulm” (oppression/injustice) for fifteen minutes. Not surprisingly, many of them did not know the meaning of zulm. I made a little explanation “giving any harm to anyone or anything around you”. Many of them tried to cheat, looking at the papers of each other. Almost none of them wrote down sentences, all made a list of bad things or sins they know. From lying to drinking alcohol, from eating pork to raping, killing and stealing etc. I announced, there will be little prize for the most original one.

Here is the winning paper:

“Zulüm= bir sey çalmak. çünkü senin olmadigi sey gizli gizli aliyorsun. ondan sonra saklaya saklaya gidiyorsun. sonra da kendini kandiriyorsun, kendinin diyorsun.
bir insana suçu olmadan öldürürsen yada iskence edersen zulüm olur. bir hayvana tirmikla yada baska bir sey’le vursa ve hayvan bir sey yapmadi ya da suçu yoksa zulümdür.”

[translation: “Zulm=stealing something. because you take it secretly. and go away as you hide it. you lie to yourself and say it’s yours.
if you kill someone who is innocent or torture, then it is zulm. when one hits an animal with a rake or something else, if animal did not do anything or innocent, it is zulm”]

I particularly liked the part she included animals to her understanding of zulm. There is a drawing of a rake next to the text, because she was not sure about the Turkish word for the rake. I think she meant rake. It is “hark” in Dutch, she told me. And the English does not look problematic, but it is indeed written with a poor and not proper Turkish.

I hope Büsra (11) did not mind that I shared her writing here.

In the following week, I decided to talk about zulm in the class. Fist I talked about three types of zulm (oppression). [Zulm against Allah, zulm against other people, and zulm against one’s own self.] I also added zulm agains the environment, animals etc. When I told the story of a man, who had been a practicing muslim in this world, but was beaten in his life in the grave, they were all affected by it. The reason why he was beaten was that during his life, he witnessed a case of oppression (a weak man was being beaten by other men), and he did not help, although he was strong enough.

Again I wrote a bit recklessly. I did not intend to connect everything and make consistent story out of it. I just wanted to record my day.

Wilders and my students

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

(from April 3)

One more day at the mosque, with my students.. I didn’t feel like following the course program today. We briefly talked about Zakat (almsgiving) in Islam and repeated last week’s topics. Quite unusually, students did not turn into chatterboxes, but kept their silence (mashallah). When I told them “girls, I really liked you today”, “we liked you too” they replied. I always thought, I only turn into a crazy teacher, after they turn into chatterboxes. It was the reverse today. Maybe every time.

When talking about whys and hows of zakah, I told them “zakah” is a form of social security for the poor, in Islam. Gave examples from Dutch social benefit system, how it work and how people feel secure because of this system. If one is not able to work, then the state pays him/her the unemployment benefits etc. Then, somehow they ended up talking about Wilders.

They always look uninterested in politics and other things happening around. They perceive the world in a cynical way. They do not react to the news. They do not think about the things happening. They live as if they are not living in this country. Most of them yearn for living in Turkey, however they are not connected to Turkey either. They talk about celebrities or TV series (mostly Turkish ones) or talk about boys and other non-serious things. Today, they proved me wrong. When one of them told about Wilders’ proposal of deporting immigrants engaged in crimes, almost all of them had something to say. One said, “Wilders had lived in Kanaleneiland (a district of this city, where predominantly foreigners/immigrants [i.e. allochtonen] live) and the Moroccans did bad thing there. And Wilders ended up being very negative about all Muslims, because of those Moroccans”. Wow, what a strong claim! Not surprisingly, many others agreed with her. ‘The other’ is creating their own ‘other’. The ‘oppressed’, oppress their own ‘other’.

Is this how they do the things in our world?

race of the killer matters

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Last Saturday, the Dutch got shocked by the following news:

“At least six people have been shot dead in a shopping centre in Alphen aan den Rijn by a gunman who sprayed passersby with an automatic weapon.”

I am curious what would have happened, if the killer was a black or an immigrant guy? Could they easily say that it was clearly a suicidal attack? If it was suicidal or not, does it make a difference? It is intended and planned.

I forget, it was committed by a “neutral” white man. So, it is a normal, random killing.

I cannot describe how I relieved when I read the news that the killer was a “white, with long blonde hair”. I cannot imagine the otherwise.