Rotterdam mayor: “We must eradicate ISIS”, be more inclusive towards Muslims

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No image availableNL Times

As he did after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has once again taken a firm stance after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. The Mayor believes that ISIS has to be "eradicated root and branch". He calls on Muslims to speak out against the violence and on Dutch society to be more inclusive towards Muslims.

The Mayor said all this in an interview with Dutch newspaper AD on Monday.

"We can not let these barbaric acts pass. It's not about revenge, but ISIS will not back off, ISIS will not negotiate. The democratic process is foreign to them. There is no talking to them." Aboutaleb said to the newspaper. On the question on whether the Netherlands needs to go to war, the mayor answered that we are already at war. "Aren't we already bombing ISIS? I am not a military strategist, so do not ask me how, but the smart military heads must come together. It is inevitable to bring stability to the world."

The Rotterdam mayor acknowledged that an ideology can not be fought with weapons alone. "But we can not tackle this evil without cutting off the worst parts first. ISIS is like a magnet. That continues to hold appeal to the slobs they use. We should remove that magnet."

"I said it after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, and now I say it again: we must make sure that this violence does not cause us falling into us-them thinking. Our society must not fall apart", Aboutaleb said to the newspaper. "Moderate Muslims must therefore now make their voices heard and reject this violence. And the worst thing we can do is alienate all Muslims from us."

On Sunday the mayors of the four largest cities - Aboutaleb of Rotterdam, Eberhard van der Laan of Amsterdam, Jan van Zanen of Utrecht and Jozias van Aartsen of The Hague - also discussed the Paris attacks and their effect on our society on Buitenhof.

The mayors firmly believe that closing the borders to refugees will not stop the ISIS problem. "99.9 percent of the Muslim world understand and do not want what ISIS does", Van der Laan said, according to the Volkskrant. He also talked about how to explain that Islam is not ISIS to the general population. "It starts with the presentation of new facts. We have emergency shelters in Amsterdam, and since day one there were roomers that ISIS terrorists are among the refugees. We have to check that properly, but every time that does not happen, we must say that it is not true."

Mayor Van Aartsen pointed out that fighting ISIS is not just a physical war, as even eliminating the terrorist group will not get rid of the mentality in people's heads. Aboutaleb agreed with this. "The world has abolished apartheid, but that does not mean the problem is gone", he used as an example. "We must ensure that the Muslim community remains part of our democracy. We even have to tolerate people with radical ideas in our society." Van der Laan added: "The discourse should not fall to seeming contradictions. Ahmed called upon Muslims to speak out against ISIS. That is a very good statement, but I as a non-Muslim mayor cannot say that."

The Mayors' common message to the Dutch population is to not be frightened. "We are alert and sharp. There are visible and invisible security measures in place, but tomorrow is just another day." Aboutaleb said. "Determination, tolerance. And implacability against the terrorists", Van Aartsen said. "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to deal with anxiety", Van der Laan added.