[VIDEO] Interview with Amsterdam mayor on freedom, security

Eberhard van der Laan - Press rally
Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan (L) with NL Times Managing Editor Zachary Newmark (R), Jan. 8, 2015 (photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times)Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan (L) with NL Times Managing Editor Zachary Newmark (R), Jan. 8, 2015 (photo: Hanna Daych / NL Times)

Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan spoke one-on-one with the NL Times following a demonstration on Dam Square in support of free speech Thursday night. The rally was organized following the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In his only English-language interview of the night, he spoke about freedom, security, and how balance needs to be found amongst the two in a city like Amsterdam.

NL Times: There was a lot of talk tonight about solidarity with journalists, solidarity with police, and for a better life, for more security with everybody living together. I was hoping you could elaborate on that in the context of Amsterdam.

Mayor Van der Laan: I think the essence of the meeting [with Dutch journalists] is that we say We are an open and democratic society. Freedom is what counts. That makes us vulnerable. Don't think, you terrorists, that by creating fear to try and attempt to divide us, that you can win this. Because we will not become frightened, and we will not let ourselves be divided. That is it. So I make the distinction between vulnerability and being strong, and resistance.

NL Times: And then, what are the new steps that the city can take to insure things like this do not happen?

Mayor Van der Laan: Only very few. Because if we follow that direction, we would lose our open and free society. So, it must come to the mentality, and the strong will to say, "you will not frighten me. You will not divide us." And that's where we win. That why we win this battle.

NL Times: And then, earlier in the day, it was said that Amsterdam would not be increasing security
around mosques. But then there was also the attempted arson in Zuid-Holland. [Supporters of political party PVV had also called for burning down mosques in the Netherlands earlier in the week.] I was wondering if the perspective on that has changed in light of new events.

Mayor Van der Laan: No. We have no specific indications of threatening attempts to mosques [in Amsterdam]. So we try to keep our minds as cool as possible. May I point out, taking security measures not only increases the feelings of safety, but also decreases feelings of safety. We should not frighten each other by taking too much measures on too large a scale. That's a dilemma.