Parliamentary journalist Niels Rigter reports from The Hague. Follow his tweets at the bottom of this article.
The threats were mainly directed against Hajer Harzi, who had told the committee the day before how a “normal mosque”, Al Houda in Geleen, had been taken over by salafists. They worked the old imam out because it was not strict enough in teaching, attracted millions from the Gulf, and programmed preachers to encourage mosques to turn away from Dutch society. Harzi told how she had rung the bell about it in vain at the congregation and how she later saw her fear confirmed when two mosque directors were arrested for money laundering, membership of a criminal organization, and recruiting for jihad.
And for which integration expert and former PvdA MP Kelik Yücel had warned as a witness after Harzi, happened not a day later: death threats came in that directly referred to the foundation behind the new, moderate mosque that Harzi had set up. The threat video, in which the message was proclaimed by masked men, is said to have even been directed to her little daughter, The Limburger.
Worry about harassment
“If this is correct, I want to indicate on behalf of the entire committee that we find this worrying,” Rog responded after a day of questioning. “And that it is not acceptable for someone who testifies on oath before the House of Representatives to fall victim to threats or intimidation.”
Harzi proved combative during the interrogation, and it seems that she is not upset. On Thursday evening she will do her story again in TV program Op1.
The former director of the controversial Waqf foundation, Nasr el Damanhoury, also had to appear on Thursday. His foundation got negative in the news after he had arranged 1.7 million euros from Qatar for a foundation based in Germany to buy a Rotterdam ROC building. After the fuss, the planned Koran school did not come, but according to the investment adviser that was never the intention. “It was just an investment object,” said El Damanhoury in a spiky interrogation.
It showed the powerlessness in the task that the House of Representatives has set itself with the parliamentary interrogations: finding out what can be done about unwanted foreign influence. The preliminary conclusion is: very little.
To begin with, foreign financing from religious institutions is not prohibited. Investigation services can therefore not maintain, said Maarten Rijssenbeek of the Financial Expertise Center (FEC), after hearing as an expert. The cooperation between the investigative services and financial regulators is testing this subject, seeing the millions coming from the Gulf states on accounts of foundations or imams, a track that regularly ends up dead if cash is withdrawn. But the FEC is not allowed to pass on information to municipalities. “Moreover, we have problems with mapping foundations, especially if they do not have charity status. They hardly have any administrative duties. Supervision and transparency are missing. “
If that openness is there, there is hardly any tools to act. Convert and fundraiser Jacob van der Blom makes no secret during the interrogation that he arranged 2.6 million euros from Kuwait and 3 tons from Qatar for the financing of the Blue Mosque in Amsterdam. Blom thinks it is not surprising that the money from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Religious Affairs via quite a few intermediate stations at Europe Trust Netherlands that purchased the mosque. Nor did he find it remarkable that a year after financing from Kuwait a senior civil servant from that religion ministry became president of that Europe Trust. Neither the bank nor the municipality ever asked a question about financing, according to Blom
Parliamentary journalist Niels Rigter reports from The Hague.