We have previously seen stories of the banning or threatening dogs by Muslims who believe that all dogs are “unclean” and an afront to Islam. Now, Hasan Küçük, a Turkish-Dutch representative on The Hague city council for the Islam Democrats, has called for all dogs to be banned from The Hague, the third-largest city in the Netherlands.
It is the latest incident of an increasing number of confrontations between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities over dogs. In Catalonia, Spain, the large Muslim community is demanding the regulation of dogs to prevent them from “offending Muslims” in public areas. In England, Muslim taxi drivers have refused to take seeing eye dogs accompanying blind people. Blind citizens in England have been barred from restaurants and buses so their companion dogs would not offend Muslims. Even the use of a picture of a dog was opposed as offensive.
The Dutch confrontation was triggered by a measure by the Party for the Animals (Partij voor de Dieren) to make the city more dog friendly. Küçük responded by demanding that the keeping of a dog be made a crime.
Muslims make up more than 12% of the city’s population of 500,000.
The campaign against dogs pits principles of religious accommodation against principles of pluralism. In this case, the Islamic value would require the loss of freedom for non-Muslim citizens by restricting or banning their dogs in public. Bans should be an easy question in that there are many public displays that may offend religious sensibilities. Families may raise their children according to their faiths but must accept that they live within a pluralistic community. Just as many of us objected to be ban on Burqas in France (which were viewed as offensive to women), these bans are equally wrongheaded. The more difficult questions come in areas of contact. For example, in England, police have been told that bomb sniffing dogs can come into contact with luggage but not the persons of Muslim passengers.
I view these proposals as inimical to a pluralistic society and also contradict principles of separation of church (or Mosque) and state. It will be interesting, however, as the anti-dog views of some Muslims become more known, whether there is an increase in tort actions based on the negligence of businesses or agencies in allowing contact with dogs by Muslims.