The Protestant daily Trouw reports that home-grown Dutch imams will not be able to get jobs in mosques in the Netherlands any time soon. The government has made it clear that it wants an end to the practice of importing imams from abroad who do not speak Dutch, are not acquainted with modern Dutch culture and sometimes even push a radical Islamic agenda. Three prestigious educational institutions now offer courses to qualify as an imam in the Netherlands.
The problem is that many mosques simply do not have the funds to employ expensive Dutch graduates. The idea is also unpopular with the older generation of worshippers who still wield most power in the mosques. "Dutch is the language of the future," says one insider, "but the conservatism of the first generation is a problem."
"Knowledge of Arabic and the Qur'an: you can't learn all that in four or five years," counters an imam working in Amsterdam. Others believe a modern Dutch form of Islam has to be established before imams can be trained here. One expert agrees: "Dutch Islam needs its own theology [...] so that the new imam doesn't need to work from 13th-century sources. Dutch imams have to be able to draw on a kind of Dutch Islam."