Rotterdam mayor defends harsh approach to theaters, museums in Covid protest
The Rotterdam city council understands and sympathizes with the Hair Salon Theater campaign. However, during a city council debate on the cultural sector's protest action, councilors raised questions about how the municipality enforced the coronavirus rules on Wednesday. When asked whether the mayor and aldermen had lost sympathy for the cultural sector, mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb replied that by law, a mayor "may have neither sympathy nor antipathy with activists."
The D66 faction in Rotterdam had requested a debate on Thursday in response to the warning letter the commander of the Team Approach to Subversive Crime had sent Rotterdam participants of the protest. The party found the letter's tone too harsh and the communication too late. The strict enforcement could have been different, was the sentiment the party shared with others in the city council. On Wednesday, the Rotterdam Theater Walhalla, which participated in the protest, received a warning from enforcers twice. The theater decided to close when Aboutaleb threatened with police intervention.
Aboutaleb said that no fines were handed out and that the enforcement was not too strict. He emphasized that opening the theaters "for exploitation" is against the law, and the municipality is obliged to enforce it if it is violated. "Our people acted on site properly." He also described the letter's tone, which he said was sent on Monday evening, as "very neat." He quoted the words of the director of concert hall De Doelen, who called it "a friendly request from the commander."
Reporting by ANP.