Islamic scholar not welcome in Netherlands

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Islamic scholar Haitham al-Haddad should be barred from entering the Netherlands, a majority of Dutch MPs has said. Saudi-born Mr al-Haddad, who lives and works in London, has been invited to a symposium at Amsterdam's Free University on Friday and Saturday.

MP Joel Voordewind - of the small Christian Union opposition party - raised the issue on Tuesday and got the support of four other parties, including the governing conservative VVD and Christian Democrats.

Mr Voordewind claimed that Mr al-Haddad was "known for his anti-semitic statements, such as 'Jews are one of the Devil's armies, Jews are the enemies of God, Jews are descended from apes and pigs, and it is necessary to hate Jews and Christians'." Mr al-Haddad is a member of the Islamic Sharia Council in London.

Academic merit
The Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) asked the Free University to cancel Mr al-Haddad's appearance at the event.

The Free University has said that Haitham al-Haddad remains welcome to attend the symposium, which was organised by the Islamic Student Union of Amsterdam. The university has defended the academic merit of the debate, pointing out that Mr al-Haddad's opponent would be Yasser Ellethy of the Centre for Islamic Theology.

The Dutch cabinet has not yet responded to the call from the Lower House to ban the visit.

(rk/ae)

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