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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Freedom of religion / religious tolerance

The city of Gouda, already famous for its cheese, is getting even more famous - or infamous - for another reason: the plan for building a mosque and cultural centre with a capacity of 1,500 people. Today the municipality of Gouda allowed this plan. People living in that area are now considering whether to take legal action and appeal against that decision.

This topic makes me uncomfortable as 2 different concepts fully collide: reciprocity versus freedom of religion / religious tolerance.

It is unthinkable that any Muslim country would allow building a Christian Cathedral in their country with such a huge capacity. So why should we allow people building a huge mosque in our country?

The only argument could be freedom of religion or tolerance for other religions for which Europe is still famous and the Middle East once was too but a long, long time ago.

Clearly religious tolerance has its limitations in the Muslim world. So why don't we apply similar restrictions? Are we more smart or more stupid? I do have a feeling what the answer would be when asking this question in the Muslim world.

I must suppose that building this mosque is a private enterprise using donations from domestic and foreign origin. While writing this I already feel uncomfortable using the word foreign origin. Perhaps the funding of this mosque may even come from foreign governments, or government sponsored sources, or from very wealthy individuals who may even be under scrutiny by intelligence forces.

In my view, the so called Dutch Bibob law (Wet bevordering integriteit beoordelingen door het openbaar bestuur) should also apply to the funding of projects such as this mosque. If there is any doubt that the funding of this project is from questionable sources then no building permit should be granted. Given the current situation it would make perfect sense to take some preventive action.

Unfortunately this is a legal approach to a matter that should be principle based.

We are good in using legal courts for ethical issues that cannot yet be solved by parliament: for instance the right to end your own life, the question when medical treatment is no longer cost efficient. In such ethical cases politicians are afraid to burn themselves and prefer hiding behind legal verdicts. Should this however be a similar situation??

Perhaps ethical dilemmas should be subject to a referendum rather than party politics or legislation.

I expect that the outcome of such a referendum would be that reciprocity rules. I think and feel that more and more people nowadays are fed up with unlimited / unrestricted tolerance.

I may like to be foolish but I am not a fool.