Government, retailers fear further anti-asylum violence

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Anti-asylum center protest in Heesch, Brabant, 18 Jan 2016 (Photo: @dannyvanasperen/Twitter). (Anti-asylum center protest in Heesch, Brabant, 18 Jan 2016 (Photo: @dannyvanasperen/Twitter))

The Dutch government and a number of retailers are concerned about asylum debates turning into riots, threats and violence. Retailers in Enschede sent a letter to the mayor expressing their concern about an anti-asylum center protest scheduled in the town on Saturday. Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs made extra money available for local governments to use for extra security.

In their letter to the Mayor Onno van Veldhuizen, the Enschede retailers, united in Winkelhart Enschede, write that they are worried about what effect the anti-asylum protest will have on their businesses and on the residents who just want to get on with their normal Saturday. They ask the mayor to keep the protest out of the city center.

"We are concerned about the location where this demonstration will take place, namely in the center of Enschede on a shopping Saturday. We foresee a disturbance in the experience Saturdays normally entail for our visitors. This due to the threatening mood the protesters bring with them." they write.

On Tuesday Minister Plasterk announced a financial safety net to cover municipalities' additional security costs in light of the threats made towards political officials, such as mayors and aldermen, in the asylum debate.

"Personal protection should never be a financial problem. A council should not have to choose between security of one of their members or the construction of a playground" Plasterk said. "And we must prevent that people a void a difficult decision around asylum seekers because of, for example, pressure at home. This is unacceptable and threatens the functioning of democracy."

Local governments can turn to the financial safety net if security costs constitute a reason not to report threats or impose a heavy burden on the municipal budget. The financial agreements were reached two months a go between the Home Affairs Ministry, the Dutch Association of Mayors, the Aldermen Association and Raadslid.nu.

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