Germany dismisses ‘Islam law’ as integration debate resurfaces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Germany dismisses ‘Islam law’ as integration debate resurfaces

By Paul Carrel | BERLIN

Germany has no plans to introduce an ‘Islam law’ codifying the rights and obligations of Muslims, a government spokesman said on Monday, dismissing an idea floated by allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of federal elections in September.

Merkel, who will seek a fourth term in what is expected to be a close-fought ballot, has come under fire for opening Germany’s doors to refugees, more than one million of whom – mostly Muslims – have entered the country over the past two years.

Seeking to boost support for the chancellor’s conservatives, senior Merkel ally Julia Kloeckner stoked the integration debate at the weekend by calling for stricter rules for Islamic preachers and a ban on foreign funding of mosques.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert dismissed the idea, which Kloeckner – who is deputy leader of the chancellor’s Christian Democrats (CDU) – and other senior party members want to enshrine in an Islam law.

“Such a law is now not an issue for government business,” Seibert told a news conference, stressing the high regard Merkel’s ruling coalition has for religious freedom in Germany.

While stopping short of calling for an Islam law, Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday that refugees in Germany must respect tolerance, openness and freedom of religion.

The message backed up a less compromising tone on integrating migrants that Merkel set at a CDU party conference in December, when she called for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible”.

By talking tougher on integration, Merkel is also seeking to reclaim support her party lost last year over her refugee policy to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which punished the CDU in regional elections in 2016.

The AfD has lost voter support this year, hurt by infighting that has sent its ratings down to around 8 percent from a high of 15.5 percent at the end of 2016.

In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte used a similar tactic to win re-election this year, seizing back the initiative from anti-Islam populist rivals by matching some of their tough rhetoric on immigration.

He told the country’s half-million ethnic Turks that they should integrate and accept Dutch views on freedom of speech or “get lost” after some had been filmed behaving aggressively toward a reporter during a demonstration.

“Our norms and values are all or nothing: you can’t pick and choose,” he said in response to the footage in an interview last September.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Amsterdam; editing by John Stonestreet)

Dutch Voting Today, The Issue: To Remain A European Country Or To Become An Islamic Country?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

The Netherlands Votes in Election That Is Seen as a Test for European Populism

Updated: 12:35 PM Eastern | Originally published: 3:30 AM Eastern

(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) — Voter turnout is high in the Netherlands as the country’s parliamentary elections unfold. The vote is being closely watched as a possible indicator of the strength of far-right populism ahead of national votes in France and Germany later this year.

Research bureau Ipsos, which is conducting an exit poll, says that turnout at 1:45 p.m. (1245 GMT; 8:45 a.m. EDT) was 33 percent, up from 27 percent at the same stage in the last parliamentary election.

Major cities also were publishing turnout figures. In Amsterdam, turnout at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT; 8 a.m. EDT) was 25.1 percent, compared to 14.1 percent at the last national elections, in 2012.

In Rotterdam, around 38 percent had voted at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT; 10 a.m. EDT), compared to 30 percent at the last national elections.

National broadcaster NOS reports that extra voting booths are being added at some popular locations, such as a high-rise tower in Amsterdam.

Two-term Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s right-wing VVD party was leading in polls ahead of the Dutch vote, with the anti-Islam Party for Freedom of firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders a close second.

Rutte has framed the election as a choice between continuity and chaos, portraying himself as a safe custodian of this nation of 17 million’s economic recovery, while casting Wilders as a far-right radical who would not be prepared to take tough decisions were he to gain office.

The chance of Wilders becoming leader in this country where the proportional representation voting system all but guarantees coalition governments is small — all mainstream parties, including Rutte’s VVD, have ruled out working with Wilders.

Wilders’ one-page election manifesto includes pledges to de-Islamize the Netherlands by closing the borders to immigrants from Muslim nations, shuttering mosques and banning the Quran, as well as taking the Netherlands out of the European Union.

The final days of campaigning were overshadowed by a diplomatic crisis between the Dutch and Turkish governments over the refusal of the Netherlands to let two Turkish government ministers address rallies about a constitutional reform referendum next month that could give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers. It showed Rutte as refusing to bow to pressure from outside, a stance which has widespread backing in the nation.

“It is my task to keep the nation safe and stable and deal with these kind of people,” said Rutte.

The 12.9 million Dutch voters can cast their ballots until 9 p.m. (2000 GMT). They have plenty to choose from; there are 28 parties fielding candidates in the splintered political landscape.

Anne Frank may have been discovered by chance, new study says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Anne Frank may have been discovered by chance, new study says

  • 17 December 2016
  • From the sectionEurope
A picture of Anne Frank taken on January 1, 1942 and released by the Anne Frank Fonds.Image copyrightAFP PHOTO /ANNE FRANK FONDS
Image captionAnne Frank’s diary has provided new hints about how and why her hiding place was uncovered

World-famous wartime diarist Anne Frank may have been discovered by chance and not because her hiding place was betrayed, a new theory suggests.

The Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam believes the address could have been raided over ration fraud.

Researchers say the police who found the secret annexe may not have been looking for the eight Jews there.

The raid on Prinsengracht 263 saw all of those in hiding transported to the Auschwitz death camps.

Summarising its findings, the Anne Frank House said: “The question has always been: Who betrayed Anne Frank and the others in hiding? This explicit focus on betrayal, however, limits the perspective on the arrest.”

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Shortly before the raid, an anonymous caller supposedly revealed details of the secret annexe to the Sicherheitsdienst or SD (German Security Service) – but the study’s authors have questioned this account.

Using Anne’s diary entries from March 1944, researchers found that ration coupon fraud and illegal working activities may have triggered the fateful raid.

‘We have no coupons’

From 10 March 1944, Anne repeatedly wrote about the arrest of two men who dealt in illegal ration cards. She called the pair “B” and “D” – which stood for Martin Brouwer and Pieter Daatzelaar.

The pair were salesmen for a firm based at Prinsengracht 263, where Anne’s father Otto Frank also had his business – and where the family went into hiding.

Anne writes on March 14: “B and D have been caught, so we have no coupons…”

This shows that the Frank family got at least some of their food coupons clandestinely from these salesmen.

A plaque outside the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam
Image captionThe Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam is located in the house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis

Analysing police reports and judicial documents, the researchers also found that the police who discovered Anne and her companions were not generally employed to hunt down Jews in hiding.

Instead, they had worked on cases involving cash, securities and jewellery.

The study also notes that the police spent over two hours at the property – longer than it should have taken to arrest those cornered in the annexe.

Other evidence shows that people linked to Prinsengracht 263 had been punished by the Netherlands’ Nazi occupiers for evading work.

“A company where people were working illegally and two sales representatives were arrested for dealing in ration coupons obviously ran the risk of attracting the attention of the authorities,” the researchers wrote.

No firm conclusions have ever been drawn about who betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis.

The young writer ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, aged 15, just weeks before its liberation. Her father Otto was the only one of the annexe’s eight occupants to survive World War Two.

A symbolic tombstone commemorates Anne Frank and her sister Margot on the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on March 17, 2015 in Lohheide, GermanyImage copyrightSEAN GALLUP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionA symbolic tombstone commemorates Anne Frank and her sister Margot on the site of the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp