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
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
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
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 Duisenbergs neighbor who led
the campaign against her it sued her.
Duisenberg resisted pressure from her neighbors and her husbands
friends - let alone the media - to remove the Palestinian flag from
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 Sharons governments
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 Queens visit as a positive
step that demonstrates the Dutch leaderships awareness of
the illogical motives behind attacking Imams.
According to official reports, the citys 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.