Amsterdam mayor's dismissal of anti-radicalization official justified: court
The dismissal of Amsterdam anti-radicalization official Saadia ait-Taleb will be maintained for the time being, the Amsterdam court ruled on Thursday. According to the court, her relationship with vlogger Said J., who worked as a freelancer for the municipality, was too close to avoid conflicts of interest, the Volkskrant reports.
The court considered it proven that Ait-Taleb and J. had the same circle of friends. "They were invited to a birthday dinner with friends and went to birthday parties together. They were on holiday to Turkey and Dubai twice with others." A WhatsApp message Ait-Taleb sent to another friend also read that her "whole live revolves" around Said's well being. Because Said carried out well paid assignments for the municipality, which Ait-Taleb were in charge of, she is guilty of dereliction of duty and at least the appearance of conflicts of interest.
This verdict is, posthumously, a vindication for former mayor Eberhard van der Laan. Ait-Taleb was suspended in July and Van der Laan asked for her dismissal shortly thereafter. During his last city council debate late in September, he said that he is sticking to Ait-Taleb's dismissal. "If I, as a former lawyer, nominate someone for dismissal, I have good reasons for that", he said, according to the newspaper.
For Ait-Taleb, the court's ruling is not good news. Two weeks ago she decided to seek publicity for her dismissal, because she believed it was unjustified, according to the Volkskrant. A judgment by the court can assist her in clearing her name, she said. That did not happen. Though there is room for further proceedings.
The court instructed the municipality to, among other things, explain how the orders were give to Said and who approved his invoices. "For the question of whether the dismissal will be maintained, it is decisive whether and to what extent the college can provide clarity on this", the court said. This case will appear in court again in January. It is hoped that by that time the integrity investigation against Ait-Taleb will be complete and the Public Prosecutor will have decided whether she will be prosecuted for fraud.
Said J. was hired as a freelancer to be a vlogger on the so-called gray campaign - an anti-radicalization campaign that caused quite a commotion in the Amsterdam government shortly after Van der Laan's death. It involved warning young people against radicalization using YouTube vlogs, or video blogs. Ait-Taleb worked on that campaign, but it was never implemented.