Uproar over Dutch plan to ask race, religion of gun owners

Lawmakers and gun owner associations say that the proposal by Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus risks breaching privacy rights and could be a form of “ethnic profiling.” (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018

Uproar over Dutch plan to ask race, religion of gun owners

  • The proposals are part of the Dutch response to new EU guidelines to beef up gun laws after a series of terror attacks including those in Paris on November 13, 2015.
  • The Royal Dutch Sports Rifling Association (KNSA) took aim at the plans, saying it “could have a discriminatory affect” and stigmatize people.

THE HAGUE: The Dutch government has come under fire for plans to register the race and religion of gun owners following a string of European terror attacks, a news report said Thursday.
Lawmakers and gun owner associations say that the proposal by Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus risks breaching privacy rights and could be a form of “ethnic profiling.”
The proposals are part of the Dutch response to new EU guidelines to beef up gun laws after a series of terror attacks including those in Paris on November 13, 2015 in which 130 people died.
“There are diverse risks factors for gun ownership,” Grapperhaus said in a memorandum explaining the changes in a concept bill published in late June, the center-left De Volkskrant daily said.
Therefore police “required personal data including race or ethnical origin, political views and religious and philosophical convictions,” said the Christian Democrat minister, whose party forms part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party coalition.
But these inclusions “are unnecessary, even according to the minimum European guidelines,” said Monica den Boer, a lawmaker in the progressive D66 party, which is also part of the ruling coalition.
“We don’t discriminate and ethnic profile. These proposals must be dropped from the draft bill,” she told the paper.
Even some within Grapperhaus’ own party opposed the plans.
“I cannot forsee any situation justifying the inclusion of these suggestions,” said CDA lawmaker Chris van Dam.
The Royal Dutch Sports Rifling Association (KNSA) also took aim at the plans, saying it “could have a discriminatory affect” and stigmatize people.
“Almost no shooting incidents (in The Netherlands) are committed with legal weapons” apart from a major shooting in 2011, said KNSA director Sander Duisterhof.
He was referring to one of the country’s worst shootings since World War II when 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis shot six people and wounded 16 others at a shopping mall in April that year.
Van der Vlis, who had a gun permit, unleashed a hail of automatic gunfire on lunchtime shoppers before turning the gun on himself. He had suffered from psychological problems before the shooting.
“To think that terrorists will get nervous because of these proposed new rules is wishful thinking by politicians,” Duisterhof said.
The new law will be before parliament within the next few weeks, De Volkskrant said.


Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

Updated 04 April 2020

Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

  • Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner
  • India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died

MUMBAI: The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.
“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, told Reuters. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner. India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died.
Maharashtra has 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — and 26 people have died.
While the government does plan to review the lockdown, set to end on April 14, three senior officials told Reuters this will depend on an assessment of the situation in each state, and lockdowns and restrictions would be extended in districts where the coronavirus case spread has continued.
Public transport in large metros such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, may only be restored in a phased manner days after the lockdown ends, said the officials, who asked not to be named as the plans were still under discussion.
Restrictions tightened
The number of COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in South Asia in the last week. Health experts warn an epidemic in the region, home to a fifth of the world’s population, could overwhelm its already weak public health systems.
But Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, and India, home to the world’s largest Muslim minority, have struggled to convince conservative religious groups to maintain social distancing.
On Friday, Pakistani Muslims at a Karachi mosque clashed with baton-wielding police trying to enforce new curbs on gatherings to prevent Friday prayers and contain coronavirus infections, officials said.
This came after the government in the southern province of Sindh, home to the financial hub of Karachi, enforced a three-hour curfew on Friday afternoon, in a bid to persuade Muslim worshippers to pray at home.
Pakistan has so far reported 2,547 coronavirus infections, fueled by a jump in cases related to members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox Muslim proselytising group.

Following is data on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia, according to government figures:

* India has registered 2,902 cases, including 68 deaths.
* Pakistan has registered 2,547 cases, including 37 deaths.
* Afghanistan has registered 281 cases, including 6 deaths.
* Sri Lanka has registered 159 cases, including 5 deaths.
* Bangladesh has registered 61 cases, including six deaths.
* Maldives has registered 32 cases and no deaths.
* Nepal has registered six cases and no deaths.
* Bhutan has registered five cases and no deaths.