Dutch PM Rutte opens Liberation Day festivities in Haarlem

Prime Minister Mark Rutte lights the Liberation Day fire in Haarlem, 5 May 2017
Prime Minister Mark Rutte lights the Liberation Day fire in Haarlem, 5 May 2017. Photo: @CMHaarlem / Twitter

Prime Minister Mark Rutte kicked off the Liberation Day festivities in the Netherlands on Friday by lighting the liberation fire in Haarlem. The flame was brought from Wageningen to Haarlem last night by a group of blind and visually impaired runners, NOS reports.

The Netherlands is celebrating freedom and liberation from World War II today with and dozens of smaller parties. This year's Ambassadors for Freedom, bands De Staat and De Jeugd Teenwoordig, will travel between the parties on a helicopter during the course of the day.

In his speech before lighting the liberation fire, Rutte said that the Netherlands must celebrate and cherish freedom, especially because freedom is something that not all people in the world have. "In many countries freedom is farther away than ever." According to him, it is good for the Netherlands to take time to consider our freedom once a year, so we do not take it for granted. It is good that we use days like Liberation Day to realize how our freedom was fought for and what a high price was paid for it, he said according to NOS.

Before Rutte's speech, actor Nasrdin Dchar held the traditional freedom reading. According to him, the Netherlands deals poorly with things like equality, compassion and norms and values. Learn from the past, he said' "Sow less destruction. Harvest more love." Dchar spoke about his father, who came to the Netherlands as a migrant worker. "In the 1960's the Netherlands said to my father 'welcome'. Now the Netherlands says 'fuck off'," he said. "We've seen this before. If you don't learn from the past, you deal too easily with the present and the past catches up to you."

"What impact does it have that you as country celebrate freedom by saying that we must realize that freedom is not a given, and in the meantime refugees are freezing to death in Greece? What impact does it have that we live in a country where we must cherish freedom of religion, but at the same time we close our eyes to an ever increasing hatred of everything that has to do with Islam?" Dchar wanted to know. 

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