Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back from Holland

I returned on the 19th from a trip to Holland. I was invited there by ISIM (The Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World), to participate in a workshop on Islamic Fashion and Music, and to give a talk. The title of the lecture, cosponsored by Cosmopolis (Rotterdam) was "Jihad Rap?: 'Islamic' Popular Music in Europe, Post 9/11." I gave the lecture, on September 14, in Rotterdam, a city I had never visited. It's very cool--it was pretty much completely bombed out when the Germans invaded in World War II, and currently a lot of money is being spent on refurbishing it. The architecture is outstanding, and you can see a few examples on my flickr account.

One of the things that really impressed me is how much biking goes on in Holland. As you can see from the photo, hundreds of bikes are parked outside the train stations. Every road has a bike lane or a dedicated bike path. Everyone seems to be riding bikes. We went on a lovely, long bike ride last Sunday, and the bike paths were full of riders. I hardly ever see anyone else riding when I'm on my bike in Fayetteville. No doubt due in part to all the bike riding, and all the walking, you don't notice any obese people in The Netherlands. (But you notice them as soon as you get off the plane in Northwest Arkansas.)

Thanks to the people at ISIM, there was a lot of media coverage of my visit. I couldn't figure out why, but one my ISIM handlers pointed out that it was probably the title, "Jihad Rap"! If you read Dutch, check this report out in Dagblad De Pers, and this one in Metro, a free paper which is read by 1.5 million people, in a country with a population of 16.5 million. (The circulation of USA Today, by comparison, is 2.3 million, the highest in the US.) There was more coverage, but not all of it is available on-line. If I find some more I'll post those links as well. (Here's another, originally from NRC Handesblad.)

I may have more to say about my Holland experiences in future...

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