blog

Colombia Leads The Way In Helping Stray Dogs And Cats

Photo: @SusanMartelo via Twitter

CARTAGENA â€" Stray dogs and cats will now be treated a little better in the historic Colombian port of Cartagena, which has begun providing them with food and water dispensers.

The UNESCO World Heritage site will thus join a humane trend spreading across dozens of Colombian districts. With lobbying from animal rights activist Liz Villa, the city recently placed a dispenser in the Plaza de Joe Arroyo in its historical quarter â€" clearly marked "Come Dog" to avoid confusion â€" and has plans to place another in the Laguito sector, local newspaper El Universal reported.

Villa told the daily she began pressing for these when she read on the Internet that other cities had them. The daily reports that there are 78 such dispensers across the country, including in Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. The two in Cartagena have been placed in spots with "constant supervision" with someone tasked with changing the wate, refilling the food, and cleaning every two weeks.

"People have been told what the objective is," Villa says. "It's a food dispenser for street dogs and cats, not for general use."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ