Saturday, March 15, 2008

Holland's Xenophobia Alert

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has posted an interesting analysis on the OnFaith blog:

Early Warning System for Xenophobia

Learning from the Danish cartoon crisis of 2006 and the Sudanese teddy bear debacle of 2007, the Dutch are preparing to preempt a Geert Wilders-inflicted pandemic of 2008. This preemptive approach seems to be paying off; reversing what looked like an inevitable widening of rifts between the West and the Muslim World. The Netherlands now know that outbreaks of xenophobia must be treated as any other pandemic threatening a population. In preparation for the outbreak, an early warning system must be established and at onset, one must quickly quarantine the ideological disease before it spreads further. With Wilders, the need for preparedness was great.

Geert Wilders, leader of the right-wing, anti-Muslim Freedom Party, of which there are only nine members in the 150-seat Dutch lower house, had long threatened to release a film exhibiting, in his words, "the violent and fascist elements of the Muslim faith". This saber-rattling was not new. On previous occasions, Wilders equated the Qur'an with Mein Kampf and called for both books to be banned (a proposal roundly rejected by parliament). Additionally, Wilders' suggestion that the 1 million Muslims living in the Netherlands renounce aspects of their faith or leave country was also dispelled as nonsensical. This new film, however, was going to trump polemical precedent and the Muslim world was readying for the worst.

This is where the Dutch did right, by discernibly developing mechanisms to dampen down disease spread. With other European Union countries quickly diversifying religiously and ethnically, they too will no doubt trip up on similar potential points of ideological contention. Thus, this model deserves dutiful review and, ultimately, duplication. If the saying "an ounce of prevention equals a pound cure" holds true, the Danish cartoon crisis should shock anyone into an early-warning convert. The potential social, political and financial costs are simply too great to ignore. And the Dutch, as we will see below, understood that. ... (more)
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