Mayors working on long-term approach to polarization
The mayors in the Security Council are working on a long-term strategy to combat polarization, fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. The chairman of the 25 security regions met on Monday evening, and they are very concerned about the increased contradictions. There are a lot of tensions in society, they say. "You have to have a strategy. The virus won't go away completely and will have a permanent place in our lives," said chairman Hubert Bruls, mayor of Nijmegen.
It is not yet clear what the strategy will look like. In any case, Bruls does not want to talk with the "small group of inciters" but with the large majority who are open to arguments. "Put your energy into that. Those other people are not willing to listen and therefore cannot be convinced. It is precisely by strengthening the middle that the strength and the solution lie. Then the group of radicals will automatically become small again," he expects.
According to caretaker Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus (Justice), polarization has been going on for years. "Social media has an enormously stimulating and poisonous role in this. Those media should not be used for incitement and slandering," he said. That incitement via Telegram, among others, resulted in riots in cities like Rotterdam. "Last weekend, it went well," said Grapperhaus. He believes that agitators should not only be prosecuted but should also pay for the damage they caused.
Polarization costs the police a lot of effort, said police chief Martin Sitalsing of the Midden-Nederland unit, who also attended the meeting. It also affects the neutrality of the police, he said. "That neutrality, which is a great asset to us, is coming up for discussion because radical groups see the police as a symbol of government policy. That makes it complex. We want to be a police force for everyone and act as objectively as possible."
The mayors will meet again next week to explore another topic. Later, all these meetings will form the basis of a long-term strategy against the coronavirus.
Reporting by ANP