Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Sunday 21 December  
Sexy posters covered up in Utrecht
Jannie Schipper's picture
Utrecht, Netherlands
Utrecht, Netherlands

Muslim censorship or just plain decency?

Published on : 14 April 2012 - 5:33pm | By Jannie Schipper (Photo: Maarten van der Meer)
More about:

In Utrecht, sexy posters have been covered up and a message stuck across them. Many people are annoyed at what they see as "Muslim censorship", others are surprised it hasn’t been done before.

In Kanaleneiland, a predominantly Muslim area of Utrecht, a poster advertising the open museum weekend has been covered by a black bag. The poster shows a woman in a short pink strapless dress. A message reading 'La ilahe il Allah – No Sexually Tinted Advertising In Our Suburbs. Stand Up And Fight Against This Case To Protect Our Children!' is plastered across the bag.

Another poster showing a woman in a bikini in the distance walking on a beach has also been covered up. The next day the cover had been taken off, but angry reactions had already started appearing on the internet. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders even asked questions in parliament about this 'Islamic censorship'.

Freedom of expression

Meanwhile, in Kanaleneiland, many people hadn’t even noticed there was anything going on. “When I pass by, my main worry is whether I’ll catch the tram, not what’s on the posters people hang up and how others react,” says a girl wearing a headscarf. She and her friend had never noticed before that anyone had covered sexy posters in the neighbourhood. “There are often posters from the lingerie brand Hunkemöller, which couldn’t be much more naked.”

Advertising photos of half-dressed woman are a recurring feature on Dutch streets and debates on the issue crop up regularly. In 2007, a Christian Party councillor in centrally located Utrecht objected to a large billboard covering the whole facade of a city centre shop - showing a woman lying down in a gold bikini. She found it poor taste. Others criticised her for trying to "limit the freedom of expression".

Female stereotype
In 2010, people in various cities damaged posters advertising Sapph lingerie with women posed provocatively in sexy underwear, and men’s tailor SuitSupply received a wave of criticism for its advertising posters showing a scantily-clad model in sexually suggestive poses with men in suits. It wasn’t just the religious fanatics who were up in arms; feminists also objected to the "sexist" campaign. The model felt the need to defend herself, saying she had actually enjoyed the photo shoot.

The two girls are not surprised that other Muslims have reacted against the half-naked images. They don’t like the advertising either. Nevertheless, they think covering them up is “nonsense”.

“If you don’t want your child to see it, just turn their head away.” Besides, they say, children are confronted with nakedness anyway. “You can cover up a poster here on the street, but there are also advertising flyers with half-dressed women. And it’s on TV.”

“Why should I protect my children?” asks a young mother holding a little boy’s hand. “The posters don’t bother me. When my child is big enough I’ll explain to him that we don’t do things like this because we have a different religion.”

And what does a young Muslim woman, who has just arrived in the Netherlands, think about a poster showing a woman in bikini? She uses a Dutch sentence she has just learnt. “It’s cold!”


Link to blog on SuitSupply campaign (some may find the images unsuitable) - Designers Couch

Link to blog on Golden Bikini billboard - Cultural Omnivore

Link to blog on Sapph campaign (scroll down to Bus stop Doris) - Smoggy Blogger


Anonymous 16 April 2012 - 3:50pm / Netherlands

If they do not like it then Leave and go back to where they cam from.

Mo 16 April 2012 - 10:52am / India

I think we are getting our nickers in a twist here. Here is my two part comment ;

For the people who are covering these Posters : If you are strong in your beliefs , posters like these should not bother you. Don't change the physical world around you to adjust your conservative look , just don't look at the damn thing and get on with your life.

For the People who are calling it Islamic Fascism , etc : If this happened in US , you would get a stronger reaction. There is quite a bit of censorship there. I don't see anyone calling them names en all..

Seriously ...all we do with these events is give a voice to the Crazy....

Woods 15 April 2012 - 8:17pm

@Chaz Martel - bravo, mon ami!

Chaz Martel 15 April 2012 - 8:06pm / Canada

The caption of this article reads "Muslim censorship or just plain decency?" How absurd is this? There is nothing remotely decent about the morality of adherents to a fascist ideology who are dedicated to changing the culture of civilized, secular, democratic Europe, back to a medievalist entity. All one has to consider the current barbaric state of Saudi Arabia and the Wahhabi brand of Islam which informs the morality of that blighted state and this totalitarian ideology which they are exporting over the entire Western world financed by Petro Dollars. Wake up Europeans!! Your culture and your traditional faith are being stolen from you and still some far Left morons are undecided about whether or not brutal, misogynist, Muslim morality is decent. Please.

Censorship Is Indecent 15 April 2012 - 2:31pm / earth

Censorship Is ALWAYS Indecent

Lionel Karsen 15 April 2012 - 9:35am / Rep.of South Africa

being from South Africa and when travelling abroad, I am always asked about political situation "back home", sometimes mischievously,mostly honest curiosity.Having fielded this question upon a visit to Australia, it became my turn to ask. Educated Australians shared the opinion that they were proud of being non-sexist,non- homophobic and non-racist,non-secular,etc. However, with the influx of Asians into Sydney,eg,legally or otherwise,concerns (fears)were mounting that soon "they" would be the new majority, start building mosques all over then start insisting upon their rights as Muslims to observe traditions which could ignore the rights of those who hosted them in the first instance. Noises were already being heard.

Canadian person 15 April 2012 - 5:24am / Canada

it you don't like it, please don't look at it. Been to the Netherlands many times. Nice country with decent, thoughtful people who don't seem to subscribe to the notion that others should tell them or others what to do unless there is a hazard. That's the way things should be. One must be respectful of the standards of the country one is within. This means that it is offensive to deface the property of others. The images are appropriate from what I have seen per usual community standards. The offence is not the images. It is the covering and defacement. Hopefully there will be offenders caught and the standards and rules emphasized clearly in a court room.

ook een Nederlands Paspoort 15 April 2012 - 12:30am / Netherlands

Define sexy .

Hans van O. 14 April 2012 - 10:21pm / Sweden

I see things developing to a real nasty situation. The influence of the Islam opposite the "European way of life" is not only an issue in The NL but also in Sweden and I'm sure in more countries. An example: In the country where nudity was something totally normal and nobody was ashamed of their sex, there are now requests for separated hours for male and female in public swimming pools (swimsuits required) so the female moslims also can go to swim and this in the name of intergration. I see things beeing just a question of time until really bad things happening are going to be the result of this kind of behaviour. It is going to boost the wrong kind of ideologies.

Chaz Martel 15 April 2012 - 8:20pm / Canada

@Hans van O - What you are referring to is called "Stealth Jihad" where Islamist Fascists take over a culture in increments. Bit by bit, tradition by tradition, freedom by freedom until there will soon be little left that you recognize in your beloved Netherlands. Listen to leaders like Geert Wilders because there are only a few like him who are fighting to defend Dutch culture and the Dutch people from the medievalist horror of a dominant Islam.

Hans van O. 15 April 2012 - 9:29pm / Sweden

@Chaz Martel: I'm very much aware of what your saying and agree with you concerning the so called "Stealth Jihad" and but on the other side I have a problem with dubious rightwingers like Wilders. Since all things already are made clear in the separation of state and religion, the laws and rules concerning this should be sufficient enough, but then these should be enforced. That's what I meant with the swimmingpool situation in Sweden which of course is mad!

Getta grip 16 April 2012 - 11:17am

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.......

Woods 14 April 2012 - 9:23pm

How dare they? Have they forgotten the tolerance and freedom the Netherlands was renowned for after the atrocities inflicted upon it after WW11? Oh, of course they have, because if it wasn't for those freedoms, they would not be here! If they are so offended, please go to a country where your delicate sensibilities are not so hurt. Like North Africa. After all, you didn't have to surrender your passports like all other nationalities, did you? Well,use them then! Believe me, you will not be missed. And before you bleat 'discrimination', this is only what most say behind closed doors, but don't dare to in public. Except Wilders.

Chaz Martel 15 April 2012 - 8:46pm / Canada

Bravo yourself. My friend.

Ward Adams 14 April 2012 - 8:06pm / USA

We all have to live with the negatives and positives of a free society. Censorship is not acceptable, no matter your religion. Besides, that company paid for that space. I suppose the offender will pay restitution?

Anonymous 16 April 2012 - 2:26am

Restitution? Only Americans are willing to sue anyone/anything. Most Dutch people will just laugh at this nonsense. Besides, censoring posters will only bring more publicity to whatever is being censored in the first place (free publicity!).

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...