The debate about freedom of religion has erupted again in the Netherlands in the wake of a recent court case. A Dutch judge ruled that a Jewish man should not have been fined for failing to show a police officer his identification on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Orthodox Jews consider carrying an ID equivalent to performing work, which is forbidden on the Sabbath. But according to Dutch law, everyone older than 13 years must be able to show identification when asked.
The case has struck a raw nerve. Freedom of religion in the Netherlands keeps clashing with other fundamental principles. This country has a long history of tolerating different religious practices, but in the post 9-11 world this tolerance must be weighed against security concerns. At the same time, the growing Dutch Muslim community wants to enjoy the same freedom of religion that Christian and Jewish communities have historically enjoyed.
Dutch society is sharply divided on how far freedom of religion should be allowed to go. The issue has come up time and again in the past few years in the enforcement of existing laws, in attempts to scrap laws seen as antiquated, or in proposals for new laws seen as encroaching on the freedom of religion.
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