Christians and Liberals in Dutch parliament clash over religious persecution abroad


Western Europe

Reformatorisch Dagblad

Reformed MP Roelof Bisschop. Photo ANP, Sem van der Wal

Is the Dutch Cabinet reluctant to talk about the persecution of Christians worldwide? This question was widely debated in the Lower House. The Reformed SGP and social-liberal D66 clashed on this issue, as the Reformatorisch Dagblad reports.

On Monday May 31st, the Lower House discussed the private member’s report "Christian persecution - sheep among wolves", written by former members of parliament Martijn van Helvert (Christian-Democratic CDA), Joël Voordewind (ChristianUnion) and SGP MP Kees van der Staaij.

Ample attention was paid to the first of seven "decision points" from the report: the Dutch government should adopt a more objective and less ideological attitude towards the persecution of Christians. According to the initiators, there is "the recurrent hesitation of treating the issue of persecution of Christians as an individual problem."

When attention is drawn to the fate of persecuted Christians, it seems impossible to do so for "this concrete problem, [or] this concrete persecuted minority", the politicians said in their report, written earlier this year. "Other minorities who are also persecuted are immediately appealed to: 'And what about them? Why don't you stand up for them? Have you forgotten this minority? This different approach to the persecution of Christians compared to the persecution of other minorities is noticeable both within the cabinet, in the Lower House and among civil society organisations."

Don’t recognise

"I don't sense that diffidence myself," said D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma. "I sense the diffidence the other way round. When my party draws attention to lgbt’s, or non-believers, some Christian parties are reluctant to do so."

Gert-Jan Segers (ChristianUnion) said it would be nice if this diffidence, insofar as it exists on both sides, could disappear. He also pointed out that it is sometimes necessary to mention one group by name. "If you always stand up for everyone, you end up standing up for no one at all."

Yes, but

SGP MP Roelof Bisschop clashed with Sjoerdsma. Did he understand that the reflex of "yes, but", when Christian persecution is mentioned, speaks of a certain diffidence to mention this problem explicitly, the Reformed MP wanted to know.

Sjoerdsma did not go along with that. According to the liberal MP it is a party like the SGP that seems to have an "exclusive eye for the suffering of Christians", and it is Bisschop who "shows a blind eye" when it comes to the emancipation of lgbt’s or the position of Muslims. "The discussion doesn't get any further than that," said Bisschop.

According to the leftist Van der Lee (GroenLinks), there is no hesitation in standing up for Christians who are persecuted abroad, but there are differences of opinion in the discussion about the position of religions in the Netherlands.

Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag indicated that protecting one specific religious group could even work against it. Kaag stated that there is nothing wrong with naming a specific target group. However, according to her it is often not about pure Christian persecution.

Bisschop said that he was glad that Kaag does not have "the kind of reflexes" to immediately refer to other groups when Christian persecution is mentioned.



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