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Dutch hang flags in show of solidarity with Palestinians

Report By Khaled Shawkat,
IOL Holland Correspondent
July 2, 2002


More than 20 thousand Palestinian flags hang outside Dutch balconies in several Dutch cities - the work of a solidarity campaign organized by Dutch and Palestinian associations.

Organizers said hanging the Palestinian flags was also an act of solidarity with Greta Duisenberg, wife of the European Central Bank CEO, who has been recently sued for insisting on hanging the Palestinian flag outside the balcony of her home in an upper class neighborhood in Amsterdam.

Duisenberg took part in a demonstration April 13 in solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada. She decided to keep the Palestinian flag outside her home balcony as an expression of her sympathy with the Palestinian resistance and their legitimate right to an independent state, and her rejection of the Isr**li aggressions against the Palestinian people.

She has found great support among the Muslim minority, especially for standing up against Jewish pressure groups.

On May 27th, the Jewish Union in Holland, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that represents Dutch Jews, announced plans to file a complaint to the preliminary court in Amsterdam in order to sue Duisenberg for “anti-Semitism”.

Algemeen Dagblad, a daily Dutch newspaper, quoted Tuesday, May 28, Vicken De Leo, the liberal party member of the Amsterdam Municipal Council as saying that it was Duisenberg’s neighbor who led the campaign against her it sued her.

Duisenberg resisted pressure from her neighbors and her husband’s friends - let alone the media - to remove the Palestinian flag from her balcony.

“I am the one responsible for hanging the flag outside my balcony and not my husband Wim,” Greta said in an interview with the Dutch Telegraph newspaper. “I have raised this flag in a demonstration in Amsterdam and have decided ever since to keep it hanging outside my home balcony in a show of continued support.”

She is unhappy with the way Holland and Europe have been dealing with hardline Isr**li Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government’s actions in Palestinian cities during the last few weeks, she said, adding that she insists on her position.

“I am an independent thinking woman and responsible for my actions. Both my husband and I own this house which means I can practice my beliefs here,” she said.

Dutch papers have recently attacked Muslim protestors who burnt the Isr**li flag in pro-Palestinian demonstrations that were held in the Dutch capital during the month of April. They saw these demonstrations as an indication of the end of the Jewish control over the city and the start of a new era in which Muslims are in control.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Cohen, of Jewish origins, appeared in the Dutch media angry at the burning of the Isr**li flag in his city, which is the first time this has taken place ever since Isr**l came into existence in 1947.

Despite their being a minority, Jews exercise a lot of political and economic influence in the Netherland. They also control the media. The Dutch authorities have always appointed a Jewish mayor for the city in recognition of the role that was played by the Jews in the flourishing of the city. They arrived as refugees with the start of Inquisition, following the fall of Muslim Spain (Al-Andalus) in the fifteenth century.

The recent events in Palestine and the second Intifada against Isr**li occupation have pushed the Muslim minority in the city to surmount their differences and to unite in huge demonstrations which many felt threatened the “Jewish indentity” of the city.

Meanwhile, Queen Beatrix of Holland visited June 26 the Al-Islam mosque which lies in a popular district of The Hague. The Queen spoke to the Imam of the mosque and the people in the administration of her trust in the role that mosques and Islamic institutions play in merging Muslims in Dutch social life.

The visit came as a surprise for the Dutch people, especially at a time when hardliners have launched a ferocious campaign against mosque Imams, demanding Dutch authorities to expel them for allegedly “encouraging hatred and animosity against non-Muslims.”

Muslim figures have described the Queen’s visit as a positive step that demonstrates the Dutch leadership’s awareness of the illogical motives behind attacking Imams.

According to official reports, the city’s Muslim population has far exceeded the Jewish population, reaching 20 per cent from the population of Amsterdam.

Nearly 50 per cent of the newborns during the next twenty years will be Muslim, official sources say, which means a drastic change in the social, cultural and political structure of the city which is one of the most important economic centers in Europe.