Saturday, November 27, 2004

Geen Hand

One of the big talking points here regards the visit of a minister with several Islamic church leaders in order to help ease the divisions between Moslims and other citizens. During the visit, one Iman refused to shake hands with the minister because she was a woman. Talk about not helping yourself. In a land where shaking hands is a normal greeting, it just adds to the not-integrating argument. It's seems quite a crazy thing to do in one of the most emancipated countries in the world. But people with prejudices, even those with prejudices backed up by religious and/or cultural norms, seem odd to those of us who think there is no harm in shaking a woman's hand.

But this does not seem typical of Muslims in the Netherlands. It is the actions of an old man whose life is completely defined by his religion. For most other people it is a layer that has the society in which they live laid over the top. In fact most people's bottom layer is informed by their religion, but this is also modified by what they really believe in, which does not always correspond to the written words of their chosen religion.

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