I’m disappointed to see that the Dutch society has decided to turn their back on liberal tradition of tolerance. I used to envy the Dutch society as the most liberal there is the world. Not so after the ban on burqa:

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch government agreed on Friday a total ban on the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public, justifying the move on security grounds.

The ban as a necessary violation of liberty and therefore, I disagree with the ban. I’d like to make it clear that I’m against the ban not because I’m a Muslim, but rather, because the ban violates liberty. I’d like to identify myself with a value that rises above petty differences.

The Dutch model used to seek to build an open multiracial society. It was a society that celebrated differences rather than a society that succumbed to xenophobia every time new social challenges arose. The ban turns an once open society to a society hostile to differences. To me, the ban is an effort to forcefully assimilate minority Muslim group into the mainstream culture. To me, the ban threatens to make the Dutch society more like what the Indonesian society used to be, where assimilation is a must, where distinct cultures have to rigidly conform to a state-sanctioned way of life.

A forced assimilation makes the Dutch society one step closer to conservative ideas that are ever so hostile to liberal values.

I do however understand why the majority within the Dutch society is eager to encourage its Muslim minority to assimilate – an assimilation that at least demands everybody to adhere to an implicit social contract of liberty, where basic rights such as free speech are guaranteed – into the Dutch culture. I also fully appreciate the difficulty the minority faces in accommodating to that social contract.

Interaction between the two groups has been hard and that contributes to the current tension seen within the Dutch society. The killing of Van Gogh certainly doesn’t aid to tone down the conflict. In a larger scale, what seems to be a clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim worlds creates and strengthens mistrust between members of the Dutch societies.

Regardless, I offer no solution and I sincerely regret that. But I fail to see how the ban could solve the problem of mistrust. In fact, I’m in the opinion that the ban only amplifies the mistrust. Worse, as I’m made clear earlier, it violates liberty. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The Dutch society — and the EU at large — should roll back on its support for the ban if it plans to stay true to liberal value and also have the moral authority to advocate liberalism. Or at least, whenever such liberalism concerns civil liberties.

18 Responses to “[979] Of to the Dutch: stay true to liberal tradition”

  1. […] dare say that Islamic headscarf is becoming a symbol of liberty in Turkey, the Netherlands and Europe at large. It has to be noted that it is becoming a symbol of liberty because of […]

  2. […] is an old issue and I have made myself clear with respect to Turkey (back in 2008) and the Netherlands […]

  3. […] blog. You could read some of his comments at various of my entries ([1050], [1048], [1036], [988], [979], [976], [973], [948], [952],  [850], [695], [435] and […]

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