Wednesday, 21 January 2015 - 09:27
Hundreds turnout for Jewish-Muslim unity event
The meeting between Jews and Muslims in Amsterdam last night attracted so many visitors that they could barely fit in the library hall. Several hundred people gathered in the capital to reflect on the terrorist attacks in Paris. "Apparently we provided for a need", initiator Lody van de Kamp from the friendship circle Salaam-Shalom said about the high turnout. During his speech, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan led a minute of silence in which visitors showed peace signs with their hands. "Not a day goes by without us thinking of Paris", Van der Laan said. "The terrorist actions make us realize how vulnerable our open society is." He continued: "We are also fighting, but with the word as a supreme weapon. How ever we are divided, we are in the first place Amsterdammers." The Mayor showed deep respect for the organization and the visitors who came together to engage in dialogue. Minister Lodewijk Asscher (Integration) saw the meeting as "an incredibly strong signal of people who refuse to see each other as enemies". "The Netherlands remains a country where you can believe what you want, can wear a yarmulke or headscarf. We can not defend democracy with only weapons, for that words are necessary and courage." He called on visitors to make children resilient. "Teenagers who were not born with hatred, but who are dragged along by the predators of jihad. We have a solemn duty to protect them there. Our mission is to teach children to think for themselves." The meeting began with a Skype connection with a rabbi and a mosque manager in Paris, so that they could see that Amsterdam Muslims and Jews are in solidarity with the French. The rabbi called it "heartwarming that you sit there together". He expressed the hope that the Amsterdam initiative will be repeated in other European cities.