Homosexuality and the Quran in Holland - I am disturbed

Disclaimer: This is my first GD thread, and I’m fairly certain that I’m not good at it. However, this topic has been on my mind for two months now and I need to get this of my chest.

The situation (I could link to articles on the web, but they are in Dutch so I don’t think anyone has use for them): beginning of May, an Imam in Holland did the disputed statement that “homosexuality is a disease that is damaging to society and should be fought.” He added that "these times, more elderly people come into society and he fears that now that gay marriage is a possibility in Holland, the older generations won’t be active in procreation and won’t be bearing children."

The justice department looked in it to see if the statement was so discriminating that the Imam could be persecuted (which was not the case) and our minister of Integration Policy had a cenversation with Imams to talk about our values (which was received as condescending by the Imams!!!)

Now, I had a problem with this statement (naturally, since I’m gay myself). I’m not a person who discriminates easily, and always fight against it. But this statement struck a cord. In our country where tolereance is usually dominant in society, how is it accaptible that someone who is not raised with our values and standards, makes such statements of a people that he does not really belong to? In other words, how did he have the nerve?

I was quite shocked with my reaction, and I’m still not sure if it’s just or not. However, that is not the reason why I started this thread.

Today, the paper mentioned that 1100 young Muslims will present a petition to the aforementioned minister to support the Imam.

My debate is the following: our country is founded on the rights of freedom of opinion and freedom of religion (and rightly so). However, our constitution also specifically forbids any form of discrimination. I fear that people with a different opinion, and are not really part of our society (this is debatable as well, but I feel it that way since these Imams are first generation immigrants and are not raised with our values and standards) will have an adverse effect on our society and should be stopped. However, the younger generation is second or third generation immigrants and are in every part Dutch to me and therefore have a stake in the matter. But should their opinion be of as much worth since it was inspired by people with (in my eyes) no real right to do so?

See my dilemma here? I’m not sure if I put this in words the way I mean it, but I’d appreciate it if people give their opinions.

The Netherlands has a reputation for being one of the most tolerant, open-minded, and accepting nations. Dutch law took the lead on treating domestic partners as on the same footing as spouses, for instance.

It is therefore not surprising that you would be the target of attacks by those who are, um, less tolerant, shall we say?

One of the difficulties of a free society is that you have to let the loonies have their say. Squelching them is usually thought to be worse than letting them rave on.
Presumably the voting Muslim population is small enough that their little petition will have no impact.

I guess a related question is what this – ah – Noble Religious Leader means by “should be fought.” If he means that he would like to try to get the religious community organized, to change the laws, that’s his right (I presume). If he means that Muslims should start hitting gays over the head with sticks, that’s presumably not a lawful course of action.

Then the Arab world wonders why Islam has such a bad press in the West.

(This will sound really bad, I know, but I still have to say it)

Muslim religion is (I think) the second religion after Christianity in Holland and is increasing in size. But even if they decide to change Holland through the official channels, it still strikes me as wrong.

The Dutch have fought hard to keep our freedom (with the help of you guys, thanks ;)). It has taken centuries to become what we are now and I damn proud of it. What strikes me as ironic is that in this country that is so tolerant and openminded towards others, this same tolerance is the basis for other people’s intolerance. And should that be allowed?

I know this sounds like ‘Holland to the Dutch!’ or something, but that isn’t what I mean at all. But wouldn’t it be logical that when you strike down in Holland you would at least take our most important values as your own? Or am I really racistic here?

>>What strikes me as ironic is that in this country that is so tolerant and openminded towards others, this same tolerance is the basis for other people’s intolerance. And should that be allowed?<<

I suppose I can only echo C K Dexter Haven here.

While one can control expressions of intolerance through the law (obviously, attempts by followers of this particular Imam to attack gays would likely be prosecuted) I see little point in trying to prevent the Imam and his followers from doing things like presenting petitions. Petitions hold no legal status in any country I know of, and seems unlikely that the presentation of a petition with a mere 1100 names on it (and to the Minister of Integration Policy – is policy concerning gays even under this minister’s jurisdiction?) seems unlikely to move the Dutch government to overturn its current laws.

So, with all due respect (and I agree that the Imam’s views are bigoted and foolish) I don’t think that it is possible, or even desirable, to ban him from expressing his views in ways that are currently legal. Basically, you cannot legislate against stupidity.

In the end, the Imam (and anyone who agrees with him) have only three choices: accept the current situation (under protest or not), violate the law in expression of their views, or emigrate to a society with with moral views more in line with their own.

But they do have another choice - organizing politically and trying to change the law. I think that’s what the OP is most concerned about, because it would be perfectly legal, and in line with his country’s most cherished values of freedom of expression and representative democracy.

This is all definitely disturbing, but 1100 signatures on a petition does not constitute a popular mandate. It’s more just the idea of the Netherlands’ reputation for tolerance and open-mindedness coming back and biting them on the ass. Creepy.

If your country’s ideals mean that much to you, then perhaps you ought to organize just as the Imam are organizing - keep things balanced, as t’were.


I agree that the best way to fight this is fight fire with fire. Get a petition going to get the guy out of whatever.

What is an Imam?

A Muslim cleric (like a minister or rabbi, if memory serves).

And I agree with Esprix. Organize.

*Originally posted by cuautemhoc *

Exactly, thank you cuautemhoc for putting my own thoughts more clearly than I can myself.

Our freedom and tolerance towards others gives these bigots who are not even Dutch (well, their children are ofcourse) the power to change exactly that freedom. It’s like saying “Welcome to our country you can do anything you want” in which the visitors reply “OK then, first thing on the agenda is to change that”. I feel like a Tibetan here…

And indeed, 1100 is not a lot. Yet. Those are only 1100 people but that’s 1100 in one month. That’s a lot of people in 2 or 3 years from now.

I agree with matt_mcl and Esprix. I should start something. Any suggestions guys? You are the experts in these matters…

I sincerely doubt this Imam will accomplish anything in a country where sexual education is so advanced as in Holland, and where tolerance is the order of the day. I disagree about fighting fire with fire: a bad argument is no way to respond to a bad argument.

Instead, take each of his points and address them logically, put up a Web site about it, and contact some relevant agencies on sponsoring a program to educate people against the sort of nonsense Mr. Holy is spouting. Don’t address him, address his arguments.

Whoa, Dexter, what do you mean? Islam is the fastest growing world religion, with the highest rate of conversion if I recall correctly–are you sure it has a bad press at all? Or are a few judging the entire religion and all its complexities based on the actions of a small vocal minority? In that case, based on the abundance of, e.g., American Christian fundamentalism, I can easily claim that Christianity has a bad press all over the world! Fundamentalism of any flavour is idiotic, but it is unfortunately what outsiders will focus on to characterize an alien group.

What is “other” will always have bad press–take communists, for example. How many people really understand the fatal flaws of communism? Very few I wager, yet they “instinctively” know communism is evil.

Yes, it should be allowed. IF you want Holland to be a FREE country, that means granting freedom to people with stupid ideas.

If you don’t like what he’s saying, argue with him. Petition the government. Put up a Web site. Organize a demonstration. Argue with people who support his ideas. Don’t try to stop him from talking because he’s not Dutch and is saying something you dislike - you’re sort of throwing the baby out with the bathwater there.

You understand, of course, that it is quite impossible for the Netherlands to accept immigrants and expect everything to stay the same, right? New people means new ideas. You can’t expect these folks to just set up ethnic restaurants for your amusement and then pretend they have no personal history. (Or you could shut your borders and become a backwards, aging, navel-gazing bunch of xenophobes, which I am sure is not your intent.) Variety is the spice of life but it means you have to put up with the odd intolerance. If the Dutch have a genuine commitment to equality and freedom, eventually the newer Dutch will see things the same way.

I’m afraid that is what it sounds like. The fact that the guy is an Imam is irrelevant. The fact that he is a Muslim is irrelevant. The fact that he was not born and brought up in the Netherlands is irrelevant. The only point that is relevat to your argument is what he has said about homosexuality, and going on about how he is “not really part of [your] society”, “not even Dutch” and how you “feel like a Tibetan” makes it look like your problem is really with immigrants and Muslims.

Besides which, it’s not like there’s any shortage of Protestant bigots, and I’m sure many non-Muslim people share the Imam’s views.

Yes, I agree that that is exactly how it sounded, and I’m scaring myself with that. Honest.

But I do not think that the guy being an Imam or not brought up here is irrelevant to my dilemma, and that makes it even more scary. When anyone else would have muttered those statements I would have been angry, ofcourse, but not to the extent I am now. The simple fact that this person is from a different culture and wants to pose his view on a society that he is not part of (and doesn’t want to be a part of either) makes this so much harder for me to swallow.

Also the fact that he is talking about gays is not something that especially ticks me off, I would just be as mad if he was talking about blacks or whatnot. I really can’t stand discrimination, and what this Imam has said is clearly a form of that. Ironically, his words make me discriminate just as much, and that is probably what upsets me most.

Nobody can make you discriminate except yourself. That’s awful close to a gay-bashing bigot who blames the victim for making a pass at him.

I should rephrase: “his words are the basis for…”

And you are absolutely right.

As for the right of this butthead to spout anti-gay rhetoric, I still don’t think anybody has defended the utility of free speech, even when it’s unpopular, better than John Stuart Mill:

That is, of course, from Chapter 2 of On Liberty (1859).

Of course, if he’s advocating violence, that’s a completely different question. And until he gets the Dutch discrimination laws changed–fat chance of that ever happening–he and his followers are legally obligated not to engage in any illegal discriminatory practices.

Aghris makes a valid point; why should the Dutch welcome someone who moves into their country and then starts telling the Dutch to reverse their values to suit his views?
What if Aghris moved to Saudi Arabia and told the locals that they should break out the booze and the pork BBQ? Wouldn’t they be offended? I’m sure that the well-meaning posters who told Aghris, a gay Dutch poster, that he must sit still while a foreign religious teacher stirs up anti-gay hatred in Aghris’s homeland would condemn the exact same behavior by a Westerner in a non-Western country.

I’m not saying the Imam must shut up; after all, the Dutch do believe in tolerance. But why does Aghris have to have to listen in silence to an immigrant in his country say that he is less of a citizen than the Imam?

Aghris doesn’t have to listen in silence, goboy. He can and should protest this bigotry as loudly and as often as he feels is appropriate. But I am far from comfortable with the implication that because this Imam presents a disfavored (and disgusting) viewpoint, he has forfeited his right to live in the Netherlands’ open-minded and tolerant society.

Last time I went through passport control, they didn’t ask me whether I agreed with every aspect of the society’s values.

True, but you weren’t immigrating to the Netherlands, were you? If the Imam doesn’t subscribe to the Dutch ‘live and let live’ philosophy, the Dutch are not obliged to let him become a citizen. I don’t see the point of moving to a country where you despise what it stands for.

Again, what if Aghris moved to Saudi Arabia, where he started preaching that Muhammad was a false prophet, women should be allowed to drive cars, and booze should be legal?
How would the locals react? Should they welcome him with open arms? Are they obliged to let him become a citizen if he doesn’t share their values?

goboy - 1. the “live and let live” philosophy is another word for tolerance. And tolerance means living alongside people with whom you disagree. If Holland were to kick the Imam out, they would no longer be abiding by their “live and let live” philosophy - they couldn’t “live” with the Imam’s words, so they got rid of him. This is the hardest freaking part of liberalism, but also the best part, IMO.

I agree that it is more than a bit weird to move somewhere who’s values and morals are in opposition to yours, but that’s not what’s happening here. Tolerance and public approval of homosexuality is not the definition of Holland.
In another example, I’ve recently moved to the point that I absolutely abhor capital punishment. The majority of the country disagrees with me, and the laws of my state and the feds allow capital punishment. Am I “un-American”? 'Course not. (and, of course, no equivalency between homosexuality and capital punishment stated or implied).

Finally, about Saudi Arabia. If Aghris moved there and started preaching about booze, pork, etc., he would be arrested and thrown in jail for a mighty long time. And that’s why Saudi Arabia is considered to be an abuser of human rights. Unfortunately, the way to not be Saudi Arabia is to allow homophobes like the Imam to speak freely.

Sucks, doesn’t it?