The ruling VVD and opposition Labour party want to change an article in the Dutch constitution which gives people the right to set up a school on the basis of a religion. VVD parliamentarian Dennis Wiersma told Radio 1 on Thursday that revelations in the NRC newspaper on Wednesday about weekend schools run by fundamentalist Muslim organisations are ‘enormously worrying’ and ‘are directly opposed to everything which we want’.
The paper reported that in some mosque schools children are being taught people of different faiths deserve the death penalty and to turn their backs on the values of Dutch society. Wiersma told the broadcaster he believes the right to freedom of religious education should be made subordinate to the right to equal treatment.
Party leader Klaas Dijkstra also raised the issue earlier this year. Article 23 of the Dutch constitution focuses on education and allows people to set up schools based on recognized religions and other convictions. The schools are financed by the state. The Labour party had already drawn up proposals to tighten up the rules on religious schools follow the controversy about Amsterdam’s Islamic secondary school Cornelis Haga.
Labour leader Lodewijk Asscher said on Facebook on Thursday he considers that indoctrinating primary school children is the same as child abuse and is limiting Muslim children’s development. ‘This is why we will submit the draft legislation shortly,’ he said. Fundamentalist Protestant schools in the Netherlands also regularly hit the headlines for treating boys and girls differently and for refusing to accept gay teachers.