Euro 2008: do Catholic countries have the edge?

June 13, 2008

The Euro 2008 flag flutters near Zurich’s Grossmünster church, 25 May 2008/Arnd Wiegmann“Do Catholic countries have better football players?”

I was surprised to see this headline on the Austrian Catholic website kath.net today… and even more surprised to see they seemed to mean it seriously.

Dutch play probes “mercy killing” as euthanasia deaths fall

May 8, 2008

Alzheimer’s patient in Dutch nursing home, 7 May 2008/Michael Kooren“The Good Death,” a play about euthanasia, has brought the issue of “mercy killing” to Dutch theatres at a time when such deaths are falling. They dropped to 2,325, or 1.7 percent of all deaths in 2005, from 2.6 percent in 2001. Playing to packed houses throughout the Netherlands, which legalised euthanasia in 2002, the play shows the law has not removed the moral dilemma for many involved.

Egyptian scholar Nasr Abu Zayd looks back without rancour

May 2, 2008

“Religion has been used, politicised, not only by groups but also the official institutions in every Arab country … Nearly everything is theologised — every issue society faces has to be solved by asking if Islam allows it. There is no distinction between the domain of religion and secular space.”

Dutch relieved but cautious after “Fitna” causes little strife

April 4, 2008

Malaysian students protest against Fitna film in Kuala Lumpur, 4 April 2008/Zainal Abd HalimThe Netherlands has breathed a sigh of relief at muted reaction at home and abroad to a film critical of the Koran that seems to have done more for the standing of the prime minister than the populist who made it.

How Dutch Muslim leader reacted to Wilders anti-Koran film

March 31, 2008

“Our goal is nothing other than working peacefully for our society’s future, the future of our children, but also the future of the Netherlands. Muslims in the Netherlands love this country — they of course criticise some developments, as any citizen. The Netherlands is our country and we will try together with our compatriots to find the right tone … to finally get away from the ongoing polarisation in society, so that we can finally get on with our daily lives and don’t have to be afraid of each other.” — Mohammed Rabbae, Chairman of the National Moroccan Council of the Netherlands

Drumroll grows louder before Wilders’ Koran film

March 19, 2008

Logo for Fitna movieGeert Wilders certainly knows how to get maximum publicity for his views. Nobody has seen his film “Fitna” about the Koran yet, but the expectation that it will be scathing about Islam and its holy book means it’s being talked about from the Netherlands to Indonesia. I just did a search for Reuters output on it to catch up on the story (see below) and was surprised to see how strong the drumroll preceding it has become just since the beginning of March. And we still have until the end of the month before it comes out… Do you have any predictions on what impact it will have?

Ramadan wants Muslims to ignore far-right Dutch film on Koran

March 17, 2008

Logo for Fitna movieAs the premiere of the long-awaited Koran film by far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders nears, it’s not uncommon to hear Muslims call for some way to censor what they expect to be a blistering condemnation of their faith.

How should the media handle the Dutch anti-Koran film?

By Alexandra Hudson
February 28, 2008

Geert Wilders, pictured during an interview with Reuters television in 2005Geert Wilders doesn’t do things by halves. The anti-Koran film that this far-right politician has been working on in recent months will be finished very soon. He doesn’t know if any Dutch broadcaster will touch it because of the controversy it has already stirred up. So he has arranged to have “Fitna” put out as a webcast as well. That should ensure that the film can be seen all around the world and not just in the Netherlands.

“Burkini” banned from Dutch swimming pool

February 24, 2008

Trainee lifeguard Mecca Laalaa runs along a Sydney beach, 13 Jan. 2007/Tim WimborneRemember the “burkini”? This cover-all swimsuit made a big splash in Australia last year when its introduction allowed Muslim women to stay covered but swim and even become lifeguards. The lycra suit looked like an ingenious adaptation of tradition and technology that could help integrate Muslim women more into Australian society. Our story from January 2007 said about 9,000 had been sold so far.

Iran wants European law to squelch anti-Koran film

February 16, 2008

European Court of Human RightsIran has urged the Netherlands to block a planned anti-Koran film, citing Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as the legal basis for doing so. This is the latest twist in the saga surrounding the controversial film by far-right leader Geert Wilders (we’ve blogged on this before). In the letter, Iran’s Justice Minister Gholamhossein Elham asked his Dutch counterpart Ernst Hirsch Ballin to use European human rights law to stop a European from exercising one of those most basic rights. Freedom of expression has been the rallying cry of those who defended the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten for publishing the Mohammad cartoons — and republishing the most controversial one (the turban bomb) this week after a death threat against the artist who drew it.