Politician accuses Labour party of "normalizing racism"; Samson calls it "absurd"

Sylvana Simons
Sylvana Simons speaking at De Balie, Amsterdam. November 26, 2016De BalieWikimedia CommonsCC-BY

The PvdA was complicit in normalizing racism and discrimination over the past 20 years, candidate MP for DENK Sylvana Simons said in the Amsterdam debate center De Balie in an interview with Wilfred Genee on Sunday. In a reaction PvdA leader Diederik Samsom called these accusations "absurd", NU.nl reports.

"The PvdA were watching when racist sentiments were normalized", Simons said, adding that the PvdA went along with the rightward shift of public debate over the past 30 years. As an example, she mentioned a video of her being lynched by the Ku Klux Klan that was posted online last week. The maker was arrested and confessed. "we are now at the peak of what people think may be said. Thirty years ago this person would not have thought that he could make [the video]."

Samsom called these accusations absurd, in a comment to NU.nl. "The fight for equality and against racism and discrimination is in the genes of the PvdA" he said. "Not only in word but also in deed, as many examples show," he said, pointing out the rise of Rotterdam's mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and parliamentary leader Khadija Arib.

The PvdA leader finds it "unfortunate that Sylvana in her legitimate struggle is trying to push allies away. If that is the strategy of DENK, I regret that very much."

PvdA State Secretary of Infrastructure Sharon Dijksma also responded to Simons criticism. "Dear Sylvana Simons, think a little longer before you make false accusations!! You are not the only one fighting against racism!" she wrote on Twitter.