Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No flag at Dutch embassy: more questions

After fellow blogger Harald Doornbosch broke the news that the Dutch embassy in Beirut is no longer showing the Dutch flag at their location, it has become a somewhat hot topic in the Netherlands, especially when Holland's most popular shocklog GeenStijl wrote about it.

According to the respected website Elsevier.nl, they haven't been flagging since March 13, 2008. However, it seems this information is wrong: a picture taken by me on Wednesday January 8, 2008 from the Dutch embassy shows that no flag was visible at that time! See picture below. I didn't notice it before, but after coming back from my trip to the States, I checked my photo archive for this picture and yup, sure enough: no flag!

Photo 1: No Dutch flag as early as January 8.

What's even more striking is that apparantly a simple flag is too much, while the building is prominently called The Netherlands Tower. Ask any taxi driver for this location, and he will drive you there. It is a well-known tower in Beirut and it used to host the head office of ABN-AMRO bank, one of the few western banks that were operating in Lebanon. As such, the Bank, and the Dutch with it, gained a lot of popularity among the Lebanese for being here while the going was tough.

Photo 2: "Quick: hide the flag, no one will know we're here!"

Another strange thing was the closing down of the embassy two weeks ago. All members of the Dutch community received a message saying that the Dutch embassy would be closed due to "security concerns" on Thursday March 13 and Friday March 14. They sent out the SMS late Wednesday night, so there was no more time to call them and ask for clarifications or guidance as to what precautions to take. Definitely not a helpful move. Why not simply say the embassy was closed for renovation or something equally vague?

To me, it's kind of strange to see the panic (?) striking at the Dutch embassy, especially since during the July War with Israel, the staff and ambassador were exemplary cool-headed and efficient. Perhaps it's the expected anti-Koran movie made by one of the Dutch MPs that got everyone riled? Harald checked other Dutch embassies in the Muslim world and none of them have removed the flag. So why be the exception?


Anonymous said...

could it be because the Hariri tribunal too????

Mustapha said...

Three words:
Geert, Wilders, fitna

+ Danish Embassy last year for cartoon incident (which was in the same neighborhood)

Skender said...

It's quite strange behaviour. It gives the impression that the embassy staff is ashamed to be Dutch and it makes the Dutch look like a bunch of cowards. Obviously, I don't know why the flag is taken down, but if it has anything to do with the Hariri tribunal our the Fitna movie, it is simply stupid. The absence of a flag isn't going to stop anyone who targets Dutch interests in Lebanon for whatever reason. I understand the difficult position Dutch people in the Middle East are in and I agree that embassies should be prepared for what might happen, but removing the flag won't help. All it does, is showing how frightened they are and as the Dutch saying goes: "Wie bang is, krijgt ook slaag" (Being frightened won't help you, because "Those who are afraid, will also get a beating"). And if they take the flag down for the Wilders movie, when will they be able to fly the flag again? After the Wilders movie, the Ehsan Jami movie will be released and for as long as Muslims keep reacting so fiercely, there will always be someone who will make cartoons, movies, photographs, books,... about Islam. And for as long as European countries don't impose some kind of censorship, some radicals in the Middle East will always find an excuse to riot.

Anonymous said...

there is a flag at the dutch embassy raised only @ the working hours of the embassy, visible @ the main entrance of the building. It's a very dumb topic u have here because even if it's a hidden building without any flag and name, anyone can find an embassy it's not a classified information try using your GPS or any other map even a google search about any embassy gives out their location. what's the purpose of an embassy that no one knows where it is!?