Labour: Stronger approach needed to quell Dutch-Turkish community unrest

The PvdA thinks that the Dutch government is too invisible in handling tensions in the Turkish community in the Netherlands, according to a letter by PvdA parliamentarian and integration spokesperson Ahmed Marcouch. He thinks a stronger approach is needed to quell the unrest.

The letter is addressed to PvdA Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and VVD Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice. Dutch newspaper AD managed to get hold of a copy and got confirmation from Marcouch that he sent the letter.

Marcouch is concerned that tensions will rise even higher once large groups of Turkish-Dutch return from holidays in Turkey. He feels that there is not enough urgency in the government about dealing with this problem.

"Now you need to be visible and show leadership. This is about our national security and unity. But I have heard nothing from, for example, Prime Minister (Mark, ed) Rutte", Marcouch writes in the letter. He calls for an "accelerated and intensified approach".

Tensions in the Turkish community in the Netherlands were brought to a head by an attempted coup in Turkey two weeks ago. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames his rival Fethullah Gulen and his supporters for the failed attempt to seize power away from him.

On Thursday Van der Steur announced that dozens of Turkish-Dutch people reported being threatened. He called on Turkish-Dutch organizations to "keep a cool head, especially keep your hands to yourself and do everything within the framework of the Dutch constitutional state".

Marcouch thinks this is not doing enough. Many Gulen supporters told him that they are afraid that when their children return to school after the holidays, they will be faced with "indoctrinated Turkish-Dutch holidaymakers, hot-tempered by a month of daily foul accusations towards Gulen-supporters via the state television". He wants the government to prepare teachers and lecturers for possible conflict before school starts again, so that they are able to handle it in a proper manner.

He also calls on the police to give threatened Gulen supporters regular updates on the course of the investigation into those who threatened them, "so that it is repeatedly confirmed that intimidation and threats are punished."