Green party surprised by commotion around fmr Amsterdam mayor's "secret" anti-radicalization campaign
Recently deceased Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan launched a secret anti-radicalization campaign that the city council knew nothing about, Elsevier reported on Sunday. The GroenLinks faction in Amsterdam is surprised by the commotion this report caused, saying that the project was discussed in the city council in March, NU.nl reports.
Elsevier based its report on confidential documents and discussions with people involved. According to the magazine, the secret project had the code name Gray Campaign. It was an online approach, involving keeping young people away from radicalization using YouTube videos. In the videos, a Moroccan-Dutch Amsterdam residents tells about his problems, without making clear that he is an actor working for the municipality.
According to Elsevier, the city council and Van der Laan's aldermen did not know about the Gray Campaign. Several parties called the campaign "bizarre", "incomprehensible" and even spoke of a "spy novel", Elsevier reports.
But GroenLinks faction leader in Amsterdam, Rutger Groot Wassink, calls the commotion "crazy" and unjustified. "The council discussed it in March with then deputy mayor Kasja Ollongren. Some parties were enthusiastic about the online strategy, others less so", he said, according to NU.nl. "Now speculating and pretending we did not know, does not suit a councilor", he said on Twitter. "That councilors are now bewildered about something being done online and pretend that the council knew nothing about it, says something about their memory and keenness to speculate."
Elsevier also wrote that Van der Laan and the responsible officials eventually had a disagreement about the Gray Campaign. And that the suspension of official Saadia A.-T. was related to the project. The municipality pressed charges against A.-T for conflicts of interest and fraud. But a source told Elsevier that A.-T. "did not even have the authority to provide assignments or hire people without the permission of others".
On Sunday a spokesperson for the municipality said that the "assumptions and conclusions in Elsevier's report ask for a careful response", according to NU.nl. "Therefore we will first put the facts in a row in the coming days. The deputy mayor will discuss the current situation with the city council on Thursday", the spokesperson said.
VVD councilor Eric van der Burg took over as Amsterdam's deputy mayor last week. He took over from Ollongren (D66) after she was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.