Amstelveen mayor refuses to buckle to death threats in asylum debate

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Mirjam van 't Veld (Photo: Nico Jacobs/Wikimedia Commons). (Mirjam van 't Veld (Photo: Nico Jacobs/Wikimedia Commons))

Amstelveen mayor Mirjam van 't Veld says she refuses to back down from plans to receive asylum seekers in the Amsterdam suburb despite a specific death threat made against her. She would not comment on the context of the threat in an interview with newspaper Het Parool, but she said it was typed on half of an A4-sized sheet of paper and addressed to her personally.

“It strikes you,” she said. “You may certainly voice criticism, but try doing it in dialogue and don’t do it this way. Come on!” she added.

“Where is it going with all of these threats?” she asked. A large volume of local Dutch politicians have received threats since the debate began about taking in an influx of asylum seekers fleeing the conflict in Syria. Some have even threatened the family of politicians for considering to house asylum seekers waiting to find out a refugee status.

Mayors, officials and citizens from around the country have reached out to Van ’t Veld in support, a response she finds overwhelming. “This makes me vigilant and strong. You should not give in to such pressure,” she said.

She added that the decision to receive asylum seekers is not only hers, but that of the city’s leadership, volunteers and members of the community activists. The input of all was taken into consideration, and a full set of services is being readied, including an advisory board, daycare and language lessons.

Amstelveen agreed in November to take on up to 400 asylum seekers in an empty office building. Jewish organizations asked the city a month early to consider the potential rise in anti-Semitisim with an increase in asylum seekers residing there. They are concerned with housing so many people fleeing a religious was less than a kilometer from the Buitenveldert, home of the Netherlands’ largest Jewish community