Hague mayor derides “unconstitutional” ban on Salafism
According to The Hague Mayor Jozias van Aartsen, banning Salafist organizations is unconstitutional and undesirable, he said in an interview with NRC on Monday. This is in response to a motion in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of Parliament, asking the government to investigate opportunities for banning these organization, which they consider a breeding ground for violent jihadism. "In the Netherlands we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We do not judge people by thoughts or ideas. This is the cornerstone of the rule of law on which our democracy is based. I wonder whether the Kamer itself still believes in the law", Van Aartsen said to NRC. According to him, the Salafist organizations in the Netherlands act within the framework of the law. And it is not the government's task to confine ultra-Orthodox religions. Van Aartsen denounces the fact that the Kamer is equating Salafism with jihadism. People must be prosecuted for actions, such as preaching violence, not for their opinions or beliefs, he emphasized. "It worries me that the Tweede Kamer, which was created to make laws, can not remember this", he said, adding that a ban could have adverse effects. It may lead to the "perception that these people are separated, they are excluded from our society. While that is exactly what we don't want."