Rotterdam mayor: Imams must learn Dutch at own cost

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Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb believes that foreign imams who often preach in Dutch mosques should be able to speak Dutch. And that the Muslim community should carry the cost of a language course itself.

The mayor said this at the opening of an Islamic center in the Feijenoord district on Sunday, AD reports. With this statement, Aboutaleb somewhat distanced himself from fellow PvdA member and Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher, who announced earlier this month that he is considering before they preach in a Dutch mosque.

"Many young people do not speak Arabic, but Dutch, The Muslim community needs well-trained leaders who can engage in a dialogue with the world at large. This begins with the mastery of the Dutch language." Aboutaleb, himself a practicing Muslim said, adding that the Muslim community should pay for these courses themselves. "I believe in personal responsibility. Those who can set up an Islamic center with the help of 150 to 200 donors, can also pay for a language course for an imam."

The Rotterdam mayor also denounced the widespread practice of seeking spiritual assistance from abroad. "An imam from Qatar has no idea what is happening in Rotterdam. He therefore only partially reaches his audience."