Prime Minister Balkenende has made some rather lame remarks about Hirsi Ayaan Ali.
Ayaan was quoted to say that she wished that Prime Minister Balkenende had as much guts as Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen. The Danish Prime Minister supports the right of Danish newspapers to publish cartoons.
The Dutch Prime Minister has also said that he supports the freedom to publish offensive cartoons. But the Dutch Prime Minister often waffles on the issue of freedom of Speech. During the commemoration of the murder of Theo van Gogh Balkenende stressed the importance of Freedom of Speech. But of the four speakers invited one was a woman who had interviewed locals for a documentary at the time of the murder. She insisted that people should tone down and not speaking their minds "for the sake of her children".
Why was she selected to speak at the commemoration of Theo van Gogh, who was as "knight of free speech"? To turn and twist the occassion of van Gogh's martyrdom and to obscure freedom of speech. Freedom of speech yes, but not if it endangers the life of the children. This was one of the occassions were Balkenende did not speak out unequivocally on behalf of the the right to speak and write freely.
Therefore Ayaan is right to put Balkenende's devotion to freedom of speech in brackets.
The Dutch press came out in several articles to pour oil on the fire. Noting the hesitancy of Balkenende to speak out and the carefulness with which he speaks, it is obvious that Balkenende does not want to clash with Hirsi Ayaan. Ayaan has the fire of the African sun and Balkenende the charisma of a digital travel clock with pneumonia, so it is clear that he does not relish the prospect of a confrontation. More seriously, a confrontation might inflame society's festering, immigration related sores and Balkenende and many other political figures in the political cartel want a cure. The doctor's prescription is lots of peace and quiet, rest and recuperance.
As a aperitif of Multicultural dining this weekend Danish Flags were abused at demonstrations in Maastricht and Amsterdam. When Maastricht passers by laughed at the Muslim demonstrators there were some ugly scenes. The Middle Easterners do not like being laughed at.
Anyway the media like to prick and slash at festering political sores, hoping that a debate between Hirsi Ayaan and Balkenende will create some waves. In my eyes they misrepresented the words of Balkenende stating that he had "bashed" Ayaan's utterances on his attitude. The news was picked up by Expatica however, the English news portal. And little Green Footballs Watch picked it up from Expatica, quoting:
"The Prime Minister also said “we don’t have much use” for Hirsi Ali’s contribution."
Balkenende says that his policy is striving to de-escalate the situation". He also said that the number of Muslims will continue to grow in The Netherlands, as they will in the rest of Europe. There is no will to stop the inflow and Balkenende is supporting and furthering the process that will bring Turkey into the EU.
These two strivings are conflicting. Either the number of Muslims will diminish or the level of conflict will rise. It is that simple.