Radical preachers have more influence in Islamic education: security service

Radical Islamic preachers have increasing influence on the education of young Muslims in the Netherlands, according to the annual report of the Dutch security service AIVD which was published on Tuesday. Some of these preachers, particularly those involved in private Islamic education centres, have 'double standards' about the use of violence and are potentially feeding jihadism, the report states. While after-school lessons in Arabic and Islam would appear to be 'low-threshold and innocent', 'we believe that children and young adults are being alienated from society and may be hindered from participating,' the AIVD said. Last month the AIVD warned Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema that directors of the city's only Islamic secondary school had links to a Chechen terrorist group and said that a radical British imam had held secret meetings at the school and that there was considerable 'Salafist' influence.   More >

More Easter bonfires banned

Almost half the 120 traditional Easter bonfires planned for the holiday weekend in Overijssel province have been banned because the long drought and warm weather has increased the risk of the fires spreading. Enschedé, Dalfsen and Hardenberg have banned fires in several villages and in other places the celebrations have been adapted to take the risk into account, broadcaster RTV Oost said. The annual competition between the villages of Espelo and Dijkerhoek to build the biggest fire has also been scrapped, the broadcaster said. Local officials gave the fires the green light, on the condition they contain no more than 500 cubic metres of wood. This would allow a fire of just eight metres high, well below the usual height of 20 metres. Dozens of fires have also been banned in parts of Gelderland, broadcaster RTV Gelderland said. The habit of building massive outdoor bonfires for Easter is particularly popular in Gelderland and Overijssel.  More >

Minister gets tough on problem refugees

The government is to get tougher on would-be refugees who are causing problems in both refugee centres and places where they are based, junior justice minister Mark Harbers told MPs on Wednesday. The Netherlands currently has two centres for problem cases - in Heerenveen and in Amsterdam. Most of the residents come from safe third countries such as Morocco  and face deportation but have not yet been sent back. The measures which apply to the two centres - such as a curfew and a ban on visiting certain areas - have not sufficiently dealt with the problems being caused, Harbers said. The situation is worst in Heerenveen, and now the centre's residents are to be banned from more parts of town, including the local shopping centre. They will only now be able to visit a store on a supervised visit, the minister said. He is also drafting in extra personnel to help with the supervision. Harbers said he wants to speed up the assessment of asylum requests by people from safe countries, so they can be sent back as quickly as possible. The experiment with the special centres runs until the end of the year.  More >