netherlands terror laws

  1. 2,146 Posts.
    Seems like the Netherlands might be starting to come to their senses and facing the facts about the threat the western communities are facing...

    Countries like the Netherlands were ahead of the rest of us in multiculturalism, drug use legalization, and many other social changes that at one time seemed progressive and modern...

    It seems like they are waking up to the fact, that they have been mistaken in some of their choices...

    How long before we all follow their lead...

    Posted on Thu, Sep. 23, 2004

    Netherlands Terror Laws Raise Concerns


    Associated Press

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - After the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, Dutch intelligence claimed to have uncovered a series of Islamic terrorist plots, prompting many people here to wonder: "Are we next?"

    The terror fears have spawned a raft of harsh security measures - from forcing citizens over 13 to carry identity cards, to authorizing police to stop and search people with no apparent cause - that challenge the image of the Netherlands as one of the world's most progressive nations.

    Some people are already talking about a serious erosion of civil liberties.

    "The government is playing a game of panic football, where they move from one expansion of the law to another in reaction to the latest development," said Jessica Silversmith, a spokeswoman for the National Anti-Discrimination Bureau, a nongovernment organization.

    While there is no equivalent to the U.S. Patriot Act in Europe, most countries have taken anti-terrorism steps that curtail civil liberties: Britain has held foreign suspects without charge, while Germany began religious profiling of suspects in the days after Sept. 11.

    In France, with its history of attacks from Algerian dissidents, special judges have wiretapping powers similar to those granted to prosecutors under new Dutch laws.

    But the new power of the law enforcement agencies seem an odd fit here in the Netherlands - a country with a let-live attitude that was the first to tolerate marijuana use and to legalize euthanasia and gay marriage.

    Among other measures implemented in reaction to the threat of terror in the Netherlands are relaxing rules on wiretapping and monitoring Internet traffic, and tripling the amount of time suspects can be held without charge from three days to ten.

    Since the Sept. 11 attacks, 40 Muslims have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related activity - only two have been convicted of any crime. The latest arrests came in July, but the detentions were only disclosed this month.

    Many Muslims claim the anti-terror laws - and the willingness of authorities to enforce them - are part of a wider problem of xenophobia that has gripped the nation in recent years.

    Said Bouddouft, chairman of a support group for North African immigrants, said the security laws are a "cause for concern," citing several instances where Muslims seemed to have been victims of racial profiling.

    He said Muslims had already been alarmed by laws enacted in the past two years that have tightened immigration and make those who came earlier feel unwelcome. In particular, Bouddouft said, immigrants are upset over large hikes in visa and work permit fees, and a decision to make Dutch citizenship classes mandatory.

    About six percent of the 16 million Dutch population is Muslim, and the figure is well over 10 percent in major cities.

    "There are a lot of Muslims who feel deceived," Bouddouft said. "They thought they were already integrating without trouble and suddenly they're treated with hostility - not recognized as being 'Dutch' by the rest of the population."

    However, fears that the new laws may infringe on civil rights have not yet spread to the population at large.

    Despite their strong libertarian streak, the Dutch don't have a tradition of questioning authority, and trust in the government is strong. There is no civil rights group with a status comparable to that of the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Elected in 2002 on a law-and-order platform, the conservative government responded to terrorism concerns by arming the police and intelligence service with intrusive powers.

    In the July arrests, four men were caught videotaping buildings in The Hague, scouting potential terrorist targets, prosecutors say. Videos of men pledging suicide attacks were allegedly found in their homes.

    In a separate case, a Rotterdam teenager goes on trial Thursday on charges of planning to bomb either a nuclear reactor, Amsterdam's international airport, or a Dutch government building.

    Previous cases involved people accused of helping Islamic terrorist cells elsewhere in Europe by preparing false papers and arranging finances for attacks. But of 17 men brought to court, all but two were acquitted for lack of evidence or what the judges called sloppy police work.

    Though there have been no attacks on Dutch soil, people are nervous.

    In the weeks after the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, reports of suspected bombs briefly closed several Dutch train stations. In July, the government put the nation on a terrorist alert without explanation.

    Earlier this month, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner proposed granting his ministry the right to assume extraordinary powers when an attack is deemed imminent.

    He acknowledged that the threat seemed remote, but then said: "I don't want to get the blame for doing too little if it proves later that the mosquito turns out to be an elephant."

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