"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Re-writing History in Holland

A Moroccan artist called Aziz Bekkaoui has caused controversy in the Dutch city of Dordrecht with his plans for displaying a sculpture which would be used to celebrate 500 years since the birth of John Calvin, the founder of the Protestant church in the Netherlands.

Bekkaoui's piece is called "Het Mekka van Calvijn" (Calvin's Mecca).

From NIS:

It is a cube measuring 4 by 4 by 4 metres, consisting entirely of reflective glass. The cube apparently refers to the Kaaba, the sacred central building in the courtyard of the Great Mosque in the Islamic place of pilgrimage, Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The controversial sculpture is intended for Het Hof, the square beside the historic Augustijnenkerk, in the centre of Dordrecht. Gert de Boon, verger of the church, submitted an objection to the artwork to the local authority yesterday. "Calvin had nothing to do with Mecca, and certainly not with Islam. I consider it provocative that this piece of work lays a link between them."

Muslims as well as Christians will be offended by the artwork, Boon claimed. "Mecca is the sacred place for Muslims. They will not be very happy either to see their Mecca used in this way."

10 July 2009 is the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth. His significance for the Dutch church was so great that Dutch culture is still under his influence today. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said in a speech only last week that he is a Calvinist.

Boon hopes that a "wide protest" will develop, from politicians as well. "The councillors for the Christian Democrats (CDA), progressive Christian party ChristenUnie and orthodox Christian party SGP are now aware of the matter. I hope they will take action."

Director Gerrit Willems of the visual art centre CBK in Dordrecht was surprised. "The artwork has been made into a religious statement, but this was not the intention at all. The artist wishes to emphasise that values such as soberness, self-reflection, hard work and care for others are not exclusive to Calvinism, but also exist in other religions, such as Islam."

This is one of those stories - you just don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Yes, traits such as sobriety, hard work and self reflection may appear in Islam and other faiths - but the Dutch, along with Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavians and Germans, used these principles inherent in their faith to pretty much create the modern world.

As Lenin had it, Who? Whom? Let's remind ourselves once more - who is desperate to get into the countries built by whom?

It seems even ardent Muslims are desperate to get out of the world create by the values of Islam and into the one created by Calvin and wider Christendom.

All that aside, this is a cynical attempt at social engineering - to quite simply re-write the history of the Netherlands and the Christian faith in Dutch society.

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