Conflict in Amsterdam about street names in new neighborhood

A new neighborhood in IJburg in Amsterdam is very nearly done, but Mayor Femke Halsema and the committee that advises the mayor on names for new streets and squares in the Dutch capital can still not settle on what to call the new neighborhood's streets, the Volkskrant reports.

Amsterdam aims to do justice to the diversity of the city in its street names. Mayor Halsema repeatedly rejected suggestions from the committee for naming public spaces CNOR, she said to the city council on Thursday. 

CNOR first advised the mayor to name the streets in the new neighborhood after key role players in the battle of the Zuiderzee in 1573. Halsema did not agree. "We have enough streets named after sea heroes." She also pointed out that each sea hero will have to be researched to make sure they were not involved in slave trade.

The city council then suggested to CNOR that the streets should be named after leaders of slave uprisings. But CNOR was against this. Partly because some of those heroes are already honored elsewhere in the city, and that could lead to confusion.

The committee - made up of historians and experts - now suggested that the streets should be named "politically correct" after international dance styles. But the mayor finds names like "Mazurka" and "Merengue" a very old-fashioned solution to do justice to modern society. 

Halsema pointed out to the city council that Amsterdam politicians decided in 2016 that the street names should be less dominated by white men. "So when they came up with the idea of those captains from the 16th century, I simply pointed out to the committee that this is not in line with the city's policy", she said. 

The mayor said that if she and the committee can't agree on names in time, she will temporarily just number the streets. "It has been said in the council that you want names that can last a hundred years. That is more important than being quick", Halsema said. 

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