Fawaz Jneid, a Syrian-Dutch imam who preached until 2012 in the As-Soennah mosque in The Hague, became a controversial figure after cursing Islam-critics Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Theo van Gogh in a speech at the mosque. The years after, Fawaz was heavily criticized for being considered part of the Salafi branch in the Netherlands and for preaching an ‘intolerant message’. Recently, the imam was given a restraining order for six months in certain areas of The Hague. This is possible because of a new anti-Terror law that makes it possible for terror-suspects to be detained longer without rock-solid evidence.
According to the Dutch security services, because Fawaz preaches an ‘intolerant’ message in a neighborhood prone to radicalization, he is a potential safety danger. The security services received support from Paula Krikke, the mayor of The Hague, who in addition requested the restraining order against Jneid. She stated: “(…) Together with many citizens of The Hague, I work hard to make living in the city as free and safe as possible for everyone. A stage for Fawaz Jneid and his extremist opinions is at odds with this. Because of that, we try to do everything to prevent him from getting a foothold in this city.”
Not only did Fawaz Jneid himself appealed against the sentence, a few Dutch Muslim organizations and (Salafi) Muslims have protested against the restraining order. Fawaz called the restraining order ‘propaganda against Islam’ and argues that he has worked with the security services to prevent young people from radicalization. The organizations and individuals that protested Fawaz’s sentence, have called the restraining order an “illegitimate form of oppression” and targeting Fawaz in particular a ‘witch hunt’. The sentence is considered illegal by the protesters, because Fawaz was never convicted of sedition or hate-speech. They also believe – like Fawaz – that in reality, the sentence is a concealed anti-Islam measure. In a pamphlet circulating on the Internet, an anonymous writer stated: “We regret to note that this is a case of (…) a selective anti-Islam measure that does not only affect imam Fawaz, but also the Dutch Muslim in his rights and freedoms.”
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