Is the political tide turning ever so slightly against anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders and his cronies? Certainly there seems to have been more of a willingness from people in the public eye to actively criticise his outspoken views recently.
Now the prime minister is getting in on the act by blaming him for the rising tension between certain elements in society. It’s about time too.
Wilders will doubtless be asked to comment on Balkenende’s interview in the Volkskrant and will doubtless describe it as ‘walgelijk’ (disgusting) which seems to be his favourite response to everything.
But now the gloves are coming off so to speak, perhaps we can do something about the hand-shaking obsession which seems to dominate the integration debate at the moment.
A few days ago Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen hit the headlines for saying that it was not a problem if men refused to shake women’s hands out of religious convictions – a statement which attracted the usual cliched comments about ‘here in Holland we treat men and women as equals’.
Like the burqa, handshaking is a very minor issue affecting very few people but it is great headline material. It’s about time we focused on the bigger picture. Balkenende’s Volkskrant interview appears to be a nudge in the right direction.
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