"Very risky" Imam gala cancelled to protect Muslims
Speakers arranged for a controversial gala of Muslim imams were stripped of their visas to enter the Netherlands do to the "risky" nature of the event, and to protect Muslims, the National Counterterrorism Coordinator wrote in a letter to Parliament. The event was scheduled for March 8th in Rijswijk, but was cancelled by organizers who said the unfair depictions of their group in the media made it impossible to hold their gala. The visas of several of the Imams were revoked because of their "hate preacher" status. The counterterrorism office determined that such firebrand speakers could further strengthen anti-Muslim sentiment in the Netherlands, potentially causing a deeper rift in Dutch society. Such an event would be "very risky for Muslims and non-Muslims," Dick Schoof, National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, writes in an appendix to a letter from his office to the Tweede Kamer lower house of Dutch parliament. "Some of them are known to be in contact with radical Islamic individuals or organizations. Based on previous speeches from some of the preachers, it can be assumed that their message can be strongly against integration and democracy," Schoof wrote. Authorities feel that the presence of these influential preachers can lead to the radicalization of young people who are receptive to their message. With the recent attacks in Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen, an event like this could threaten societal peace and stability, says Schoof. The government has faced criticism with their decision to revoke the visas, with some saying that the government actions further increase the negative image of Muslims, RTL Nieuws reports. Government says that there is nothing wrong with this kind of visa procedure. Even after granting a visa it can be withdrawn based on new information or circumstances.