Eindhoven blocks seven controversial Islamic preachers

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No image availableNL Times

Eindhoven mayor Rob van Gijzel is blocking seven Islamic imams from speaking at a religious conference in the Noord-Brabant city later this week. Van Gijzel was informed by the national counterterrorism office that the imams have used their pulpits to speak out against Jews and the LGBT community, according to NOS.

The religious figures were to speak at the Waqf Foundation’s annual conference, slated to begin on December 24. The 26th annual edition of the event is titled "This is Mohammed." The foundation’s director, Nasr El-Damanhoury, called the move an affront to religious freedoms in the Netherlands. He is taking the matter to court in an effort to reverse the city’s decision. “I am personally guaranteeing that the conference will not be a threat to public order,” El-Damanhoury told NOS. The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTB) advised the city to prevent the sermons from happening. At least one of the seven imams already had their visa to enter the Netherlands withdrawn, and the other six face a similar sanction, a city spokesman told the broadcaster. El-Damanhoury ran into similar problems in April after an invitation to Saudi speaker Aaidh al-Qarni was similarly stopped because of a speech al-Qarni gave a decade earlier. In that speech, he reportedly said the “heads and throats of apostates from Islam must be severed” and “Jews and their helpers must be destroyed”. Following the cancellation, El-Damanhoury called on the Dutch government to be more transparent, and release their internal list of controversial speakers who would not be allowed in the country. He said his event would have been open to authorities and translated in Dutch for their sake. Van Gijzel has served as Eindhoven’s mayor for eight years. In 2014, he organized a task force in the city to tackle growing intolerance towards Muslim people. He announced his resignation at the beginning of December, expected to take effect next September.