Category: ‘resistance’

My two weeks at the ULB, Maison de Sciences Humaines

8 April 2017 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Ik mocht de laatste twee weken van maart 2017 als ‘professeur invité’ fed13640-0ba5-418a-bd20-2f50f5d9b8a8-original werken op het Maison des Sciences Humaines van de Université Libre de Bruxelles. Zie hun website Het is een fantastische vrijplaats voor heel verschillende onderzoekers naar urbanisatie, East Asia, de Arabische wereld, en gender en seksualiteit.17388790_1121173508029346_5492226494380438154_o Ik vond naast het gewone werk, de seminars, een gastcollege en het Belgische bier ook tijd voor reflectie: welke onderzoeksprojecten waar de rechtspraak (ook) iets aan heeft, zijn interessant voor de komende jaren? Vast ook iets met culturele diversiteit … 🙂

You would probably never guess, but behind these doors0a94ca13-b623-4ea4-9c85-4c4300f3ba23-original is one of the most exciting institutions of the ULB, namely the Centre d’histoire du droit et d’anthropologie juridique (CHDAJ,! On 22 March 2017 we had a wonderful and interesting research seminar on « SELECTIVE MOBILISATION OF ‘CULTURE’ IN JUDICIAL SETTINGS ». Seminar_22march_Program&Venue-1[1] The seminar addressed the question of the mobilisation (or non-mobilisation) of the notions ‘culture’ and ‘cultural diversity’ by the different actors of the judicial system, specifically in family and youth justice. We had presentations by Caroline Simon (ULB), Olga Petintseva (UGhent), Anne Wyvekens (CNRS/ISP), Fabienne Brion (UCLouvain), and Livia Holden (Univ di Padua). We discussed institutional discourse, cultural expertise, routine practices of legal professionals, legal consciousness, interpretive spaces, legal cultural differences between the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia, and much more. We’ll try and have publications out in the near future, together with Barbara Truffin.

The Law faculty, and btw the whole of the ULB, has very diverse architecture. Here’s two photos to show that:
17636954_1128692497277447_8409080236508160963_o 17635349_1128692800610750_4016901464985044248_o

Dutch court on Muslim divorce

19 February 2016 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

On 6 January 2016 the court of Rotterdam ruled it could not force a Muslim husband to cooperate with an Islamic divorce. The court argues that it is up to the woman to freely abide by Islamic rules, and that the issue in question does not relate to the Dutch legal order. The request of the woman (to order the man to perform a talaq or to cooperate with khula) is turned down.

See decision in Dutch: Sharia huwelijk – rb over weigering van de man om mee te werken aan ontbinding van het huwelijk

Of course the decision reached the media. Machteld Zee comments on the case (her recent PhD is shown), but also ‘Femmes for Freedom’ and lawyer Channa Samkalden who argues that ‘non-compliance with religious norms may have civil consequences for women’. The Clara Wichmann Institute will start a legal procedure (a so called ‘proefproces’) to secure that an Islamic divorce in the future can be secured. See, in Dutch:

Indigenous Australians may soon lose ancestral land

1 October 2015 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Every year in my Antrhopology of Law course at Erasmus Law School, a large part of my teaching is devoted to Australian Aboriginals and their concept of law. 

This post, on Al Jazeera, shows again how the Australian government is blind to alternatives to their types of interventions, and crushes indigenous communities. The idea of ‘one law for all’ leads to devastating consequences for some.

Part of the article:

“Since its closure, most of the children who lived there have not returned to school, and youth suicides – cited by the government as a reason to close the town – have increased.

A 2011 Amnesty report found that the mortality rate for Aboriginal people living in urban areas was far higher than those living on ancestral lands. Some of Oombulgurri’s former residents are now homeless.

While the future of Western Australia’s indigenous communities remains uncertain, Aboriginal community organisers say the closure of these communities will bring social chaos and looking back on past policies, this plan could augur yet another lost generation of indigenous Australians.”

For the whole article:

Protesting Dutch judges

16 December 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

This does not happen often in the Netherlands: judges protesting against their workload and the increasing urge for efficiency. According to NRC (in Dutch), judges from the court of appeal in Leeuwarden have written a manifesto that is discussed internally. The judges complain that the quality of their work hardly receives any attention, while there is an increasing tendency to just look at the number of cases processed. The need to do ‘production’ replaces the need for attention to individual cases and legal quality.

In a first reaction the Council for the Judiciary agreed. “We share the concern”, they said.

To be continued …

On ‘gedogen’ of illegal students

27 June 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

In May a Dutch judge decided that illegal students, for example asylum seekers who were turned down but still stay in the Netherlands, have a right to do an internship if that is part of the study requirements. The right to education comes first, the judge said, and an internship does not count as ‘work’. Minister Leers of integration this week announced that he will fight the decision on appeal. This means that legally internship still counts as work, and thus companies and organizations with illegal internship students have to pay a fine.

The announcement of Leers led to heated debate in Parliament of pros and cons of seeing an internship as work or as part of education. The solution, typically Dutch and typically politics, is to postpone the decision to change the law until after elections in September. In the mean time, the ‘gedogen’ construction is taken out of the Dutch cupboard. ‘Gedogen’ means that an illegal situation will not be prosecuted. Leers agreed to instruct the Labour Inspection to look the other way when illegal students are spotted.

In the mean time, some schools and universities have always defied legal rules on this point. They took the risk of being fined. And besides that there was the ‘Naughty Fund’ that collected money to pay the fines of institutions and illegals. Some interesting resistance … 😉

Arif Sag and frustrations at Schiphol airport

17 May 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

2012 is the year of 400 years of Dutch-Turkish friendship. There are many official and informal festivities to celebrate this, and one was about to happen last Sunday on 13 May. Famous Turkish folk singer Arif Sag was to perform at the Concert Hall in Amsterdam.

He came for a rehearsal on Thursday and was questioned at Schiphol for his reasons to come. Sag could enter the Netherlands after he apparently could convince the border police of his friendly intentions. It took him at least ten minutes. On Sunday he was again held for questioning at Schiphol. This time it took him at least half an hour. He got so angry that he refused to enter the Netherlands, and returned home, leaving the audience waiting, Turks angry, Dutch ashamed, and the minister of integration Leers defending the Dutch border police. ‘They just did their job correctly and have acted according to the rules’, he said yesterday.

Well well … what a familiar argument …

Mayor vs. Minister

28 March 2012 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Mayor of small town Giessenlanden mrs. Els Boot ordered the local police not to cooperate in trying to evict an illegal Afgan asylum seeker. The man had worked (in an administrative function?) at the Afghan Security Agency and had to flee the Taliban regime with his family in 1998. His wife is ill and is allowed to stay with the kids, but the man needs to be evicted because the policy is not to grant asylum to officers of the Security Agency, minister Gert Leers said.

Because of the order of the mayor, Leers has a problem. His authority is defied by mayor. Police has a problem because they are law enforcers caught between contradicting orders. Afghan family has a problem because of integrated kids, a sick unintegrated mother, and an illegal father fearing to be put on a plane. Political parties and asylum seeker organizations all have another ‘example’ of the brute/fair/thelawisthelaw/degrading/inconsistent (strike through what does not conform to your opinion) consequences of the law.


16 November 2011 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

I only realized lately that the ‘weigerambtenaar’ is a new Dutch word and maybe fits in with Dutch legal culture. See earlier posts. Today Parliament voted with 84 against 58 to legally ban the weigerambtenaar. ‘No more refusals to marry people of the same sex just because your ‘religious conviction’ is against it. Just do your job or find another.’

The proposal of the ban initiated with Groen Links, the critical green socialist outsider party I have always voted for because they would never be in power and I thought their voice was necessary. Now it seems like the religious parties are becoming the outsiders, and I am not religious at all but I am seriously reconsidering my next vote …

Religiously motivated resistance against Big Brother

9 November 2010 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

In the fight against terrorism and pro evermore security, the Dutch state (as probably every modern state) increasingly invades privacy. Last week the media paid some attention to people who out of religious convictions resist the Big Brother State. They have become illegal on purpose. They refused to provide their fingerprints when they asked for a new passport, because their fingerprints would not only be included in the document, but also put in a database. Some people (with support of organization Vrijbit) sued the State for breach of the European Convention of Human Rights (case pending, 29 Nov is first hearing).
People who out of religious conviction became illegal, have an interesting argument based on the bible. Their general concern is the increase in social distrust it brings in society, specially against ‘the stranger’ like the refugee and migrant. They argue that “the King, that is the State, should stay far from arrogance and misuse of power” and “when you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you.” (Leviticus 23:22). What is happening now, they say, is that the system is becoming airtight. Closed. This is not ‘leaving the sides of the field to strangers’. Thus, Big Brother meets religiously motivated resistance. (source: De Groene Amsterdammer 4 November 2010).


26 October 2010 Posted by Wibo van Rossum

Graffiti by Banksy
The impact of ‘breaking the rules’ apparently differs per discipline .. 😉
“Rules are good. Break them.” (Tibor Kalman, graphic designer)
“Rules can be broken – but never ignored.” (David Jury, typographer)
“Rules are overrated. They need to be changed by every generation. That is your most important mandate: if it’s not broken, break it.” (Richard Serra, sculptor and video artist)
“By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately, and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist.” (Robert Bringhurst, poet)
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