Report: Dutch mosque's calls to fight radicalization fell on deaf ears
A local mosque in Zoetermeer repeatedly reported problems with radicalizing youths in the city, but Zoetermeer did not respond. The mosque's calls for help directly conflict with the mayor's statements to the city council after the first suspected Dutch jihadists left from the city to Syria, that there were no previous signs that young Muslims were being radicalized in Zoetermeer, NRC reports based on its own research.
According to the newspaper, mosque Al-Qibla's administration filed a report with the police in July 2012 after a board member was assaulted by a radical Muslim. The report states that the board experienced "big problems" with young people who want to "radicalize the mosque". That was the second report on radicalization filed with the police that year. The problems were also discussed with Jan Waaijer, who was mayor of Zoetermeer until September 2012.
The radicalized young people eventually gave up their attempt to overthrow the mosque board and left for Syria late 2012 and early 2013 - along with suspected jihadists from The Hague, Delft and Schiedam, the first Dutch jihadists to do so, according to NRC.
Current Mayor Charlie Aptroot expressed his surprise at this time, stating that Zoetermeer never received disturbing reports of radicalization. In a written response to NRC, the Haaglanden police said that the concerns about radicalization in the mosque was discussed with Aptroot during consultations in late September 2012. Both police and municipality admit that the power struggle in the mosque was discussed under the headline "radicalization".
The Mayor saw no reason to intervene in the power struggle as it did not disturb public order, according to the newspaper. Aptroot added that the word "radicalization" now carries much more weight than it did back then, when no young people left for Syria yet.
Since 2013 Zoetermeer and mosque Al-Qibla are working very well together to combat radicalization, mosque president Mohammed Boudadi said to NRC.