Conservative Islam conference in Utrecht angers anti-Islamists

Despite unrest in Utrecht about an Islam conference being held in the city this week, the event can continue as planned, the municipality of Utrecht told De Telegraaf Wednesday.

"The conference can proceed as planned, but the police and Public Prosecutor we will be keeping their fingers on the pulse," a municipality spokesperson said. The municipality will talk to the organizers of the event Wednesday to find out what their plans are. The municipality can only prohibit the conference if public order is liable to be disrupted or if there is great social unrest, NU reports.

The conference is organized by the Utrecht Islamic foundation AlFitrah and is to take place from Thursday to Sunday.

According to De Telegraaf, one of the speakers is Sheikh Abo Chayma, who previously received a three year suspended prison sentence in Belgium. He was previously accused of "inhuman and degrading treatment and torture," and was present in Morocco when a young Moroccan was killed during an exorcism in 2004, the newspaper reports.

PVV leader Geert Wilders and two VVD Parliamentarians, Sietse Fritsma and Machiel de Graaf, plan to demonstrate outside the conference tomorrow. He wants to make it clear that "we do not want hate imams in the Netherlands," Het Parool reports. Wilders phoned Mayor Jan van Zanen to inform him that they would be coming to Utrecht. The municipality of Utrecht only commented that "anyone is allowed to demonstrate" and would say nothing about possible police deployment to avoid a confrontation.

The PVV also submitted written questions on the issue to the Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher and Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Plasterk. The PVV thinks it's "absurd" that a visa was issued to "Muslim men who have proven to have terrorist intentions or have even been punished for torture," he is quoted as saying. Wilders wants the visas to be withdrawn and also insists that AlFitrah be disbanded.

Last month a benefit gala in Rijswijk was cancelled after a lot of commotion. The event eventually took place over the internet.

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