Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan. October 6, 2010 (photo: Edwin van Eis / Wikimedia) - Credit: Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan. October 6, 2010 (photo: Edwin van Eis / Wikimedia)
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 - 09:43
Amsterdam mayor defends comments about Cologne sex assaults
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan did not intend his remark that Amsterdam residents are too "nice" to let mass sexual assaults happen in the city to be a relativism. The nuance of his statement was lost in the reports about it, he said to the municipal council in a committee meeting on Tuesday, the Parool reports. Van der Laan complained about the discussions that arose as a result of his statements. "But it comes with the job", he said. The interview in which the mayor made the statement led to much criticism. The council sent a transcript of the interview to all political factions on Wednesday, so that they can read it with all the nuances it entails. On Monday Van der Laan was asked about the mass sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany over New Year's in an interview on Radio 1. One of the questions was whether he thinks something like that could happen in Amsterdam. The mayor replied: "As mayor I hope to be able to say: at least not on that scale. Amsterdammers don't like to hear it, but I find them much too nice for that." the mayor said. "I think that in Amsterdam it is quite obvious that you should be nice to each other and that we set boundaries." Criticism on the statement came from various sides, including from within Van der Laan's own party, the PvdA. "Too nice?" PvdA Parliamentarian Ahmed Marcouch commented to the Parool. "I would like to agree and of course women can still safely walk the streets at night in Amsterdam, but let's not pretend there is no severe sexual harassment. These are not things to laugh away." VVD councilor Dilan Yesilgoz also found the statements inappropriate. "A extraordinary remark by the mayor. A fortnight ago in Cologne they also thought such a thing was impossible", the councilor said to the newspaper. "Germany is also not a third world country where women have no rights. We still don't know exactly what happened on New Year's Eve, but we know it is serious. Then it is inappropriate to say that this can not happen here. Here too women are harassed on the streets."