Sunday, May 4, 2008

May 4 in the Netherlands

Amsterdam, Dam Square, May 4, 2008.

Remembrance of the Dead (Dutch: Dodenherdenking) is held annually on May 4 in the Netherlands. It commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.
Until 1961, the commemoration only related to the Dutch victims of World War II. Since 1961, the victims of other military conflicts (such as the Indonesian National Revolution in Indonesia) and peacekeeping missions (such as in Lebanon or Bosnia) are remembered on May 4 as well.
Traditionally, the main ceremonies are observed in Amsterdam at the national monument on Dam Square. This ceremony is usually attended by members of the cabinet and the royal family, military leaders, representatives of the resistance movement and other social groups. At 8:00 p.m., two minutes of silence are observed throughout the Netherlands. Since May 4 1994, the flags, having hung at half-staff during the day, are then hoisted to the sounds of the Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem. Since 2001 the new protocol says it's okay to let the flag hang half-staff.

The Northen part of Holland was one of the last stronholts of Nazi Germany. In the end, the German forces in North West Germany, Denmark and Holland surrender: On May 4, 1945, the British Field Marshal Montgomery took the unconditional military surrender from General Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and General Hans Kinzel, of all German forces "in Holland, in northwest Germany including the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands, in Schleswig-Holstein, and in Denmark… includ[ing] all naval ships in these areas." on Lüneburg Heath; an area between the cities of Hamburg, Hanover and Bremen. As the operational commander of some of these forces was Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, this signaled that the European war was over.

A closer look at the Muslim call for dialog

Danish Kristeligt Dagblad reported two weeks ago that the National Council of Churches in Denmark, representing 15 denominations and 40 church organizations including the national church, had written a letter thanking the 138 Muslim leaders for their invitation to dialog and religious coexistence. "A Common Word Between Us and You" (official site) was sent to the Pope and other Christian leaders in October.

The Danish newspaper examined which Muslim leaders had signed the invitation and found several who had called for war, conflict and persecution of Jews.
The list includes Taissir Rajab Al-Tamimi, a judge in an Islamic court in Palestine, who had said in the past that "the Jews are destined to be persecuted, humiliated and tortured forever,and it is a Muslim duty to see to it that they reap their due. No petty arguments must be allowed to divide us. Where Hitler failed, we must succeed"

A month before the letter was presented to Christian leaders former Pakistani sharia judge Muhammad Taqi Usmani was quoted in the Times as saying that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practise Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle.

Ekrima Sabri, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and all of Palestine, had expressed himself against Jews and Israel many times. "There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aksa [the mosque compound] and there is no proof that there was ever a temple." In case anybody doubts how he sees peace: "If the Jews want real peace, they must not do anything to try to pray on Al-Aksa." As for Israel's right to exist: "We have announced a number of times that from a religious point of view, Palestine from the sea to the river is Islamic."

Anders Gadegaard, chairman of the council and dean of the Copenhagen Cathedral, says it doesn't make a difference that several of the Muslim scholars had made problematic statements. He says they have not checked what each of the 138 signatories had said, and that they had responded to the open and positive letter inviting to dialog. He doesn't think that all Muslim spokespeople are responsible for what a little group might have said in a particular context, but if they repeat such statements which conflict with the declarations of dialog and peace, it will naturally be very difficult to progress.

It should be noted, though, the the National Council of Churches in Denmark did find the following statement in the invitation to peace and dialog problematic: As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them—so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes, (in accordance with the verse of the Holy Qur'an [Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8] quoted above).

The Danish council therefore stressed in their response that nobody is waging war against Muslims on account of their religion.The National Council of Churches in Denmark is far from the only one to have responded to the Muslim leaders' call for dialog and coexistence. The English archbishop, various other Christian leaders as well as the Chief Rabbis of Israel had written as well. The Council of European Bishops' Conferences and Conference of European Churches set up a Committee for Relations with Muslims in Europe. The Vatican intends to hold a dialog meeting sometime this spring.

Andreas Christensen priest of the Frihavn parish in Copenhagen says that for dialog to be meaningful it is crucial that both sides know who they're speaking with. What's their mandate, he asks, do they represent a majority and do they have political influence?
He praises the letter from the National Council of Churches in Denmark for being open, while theologically maintaining the differences between Christianity and Islam. Christensen says that such an initiative might show that a majority of Christians and Muslims in the world want to live in peace, and that only a few Christians want to battle Muslims, and vice versa.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

Note: the fact that prominent figures in the Muslim world deny the influence of the extreme fundamentlist Muslims in the world, is a shame.

Don't complain too much America....once....

...and why Yankees and Gringo's (often not aware that there are other countries than the Jointed States of America) has to stop complaining. And...most of their gas is imported..))

Most expensive places to buy gas
Rank Country Price/gal
1. Bosnia-Herzegovina $10.86
2. Eritrea $9.58
3. Norway $8.73
4. United Kingdom $8.38
5. Netherlands $8.37
6. Monaco $8.31
7. Iceland $8.28
8. Belgium $8.22
9. France $8.07
10. Germany $7.86
111. United States $3.45

Day opening - May 4

Relativity by Escher, 1953.