By Roberta B. Cowan
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - On the eve of 9/11, a Dutch Muslim politician has launched a campaign calling on Muslims around the world to stop blindly following decrees issued by a handful of extremists, and to start thinking for themselves.
Tofik Dibi, a member of parliament for the opposition GreenLeft Party, said that as a "normal, ordinary Muslim," he wanted his "Final Fatwa" to ensure that the debate about Islam included a more "reasonable, free-thinking Muslim voice."
The Netherlands is home to about 800,000 Muslims, or about 5 percent of the population, mainly of Moroccan or Turkish origin. As in many other European countries, much of the debate over immigration and Islam centers on concerns about integration.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party is the government's key ally, has an anti-Islam agenda, has campaigned for a ban on burqas, and wants to stop immigration, particularly from Muslim countries.
Dibi's "Final Fatwa," launched 10 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, calls on Muslims to reject all fatwas issued by extremists and to reclaim their religion.
Such fatwas "reduce a Muslim to a mindless and heartless machine," Dibi said.
"On September 11th 2001, terrorists not only hijacked planes and killed innocent people, they, the extremists, also hijacked the religion of Islam," Dibi told Reuters Saturday.
Dibi, 30, is considered a rising star in the GreenLeft Party. He was born in the Netherlands to Moroccan parents, decided to go into politics after 9/11 and has been a member of parliament since 2006.
Popular debates about Islam have spokespeople who are either extremists or anti-Islam, Dibi said, with the result that the perspective of the "reasonable Muslim" is overshadowed.
"The voice of free-thinking Muslims needs to be heard, they are the ones standing up for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, and North Africa during the Arab Spring, and we hope this campaign will help to show that the majority of Muslims dream of freedom and democracy just like everyone else," he said.
Wilders tweeted in response to Dibi's proposal, "Dibi's fatwa calls for an end to Islamic extremism. What we need is a fatwa to end Islam."
(Editing by Sara Webb and Louise Ireland)