Some Dutch cities not flying Syrian flags for earthquake victims at refugees' request
Turkish and Dutch flags are hanging at half-staff throughout the Netherlands because of the severe earthquakes in the southwestern region of Turkey, where thousands of people have died. Many people have also been killed just across the border in Syria, but Syrian flags have largely not been flown in the Netherlands in honor of the victims there, not even at the lowered position as a sign of mourning. Many municipalities have said this was at the request of the refugees in the Netherlands from that country.
Haarlem leeft mee met de slachtoffers van de aardbevingen in Turkije en Syrië.https://t.co/KBdJX6TqJ9 pic.twitter.com/31IWgm0U2u— Gemeente Haarlem (@gemeentehaarlem) February 7, 2023
"The Syrian community has indicated that for them the flag is too closely linked to the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad," the municipality of Helmond, Noord-Brabant explained on Twitter. The city is one of many flying the Turkish flag, but not the Syrian flag.
The municipality of Zandvoort also said on its website, "At the request of the Syrian community in the area, the choice was made not to fly the Syrian flag."
Tilburg did hoist the government flag of Syria next to that of Turkey on Wednesday at City Hall. "We want to express our sympathy for all those affected. We are focusing on everyone there, and here, who is confronted with uncertainty and suffering, and for us this has no political significance," said the spokesperson for Mayor Theo Weterings. The municipality said it has not yet received any complaints from the Syrian community in the city.
The municipalities of Haarlem and Gilze en Rijen announced that they chose the flag of Turkey because that is where the epicenter was. The Dutch flag was lowered to half-staff at the town hall of Alphen aan den Rijn.
A communications tower there will be illuminated in the colors of the Turkish and Syrian flags: red, white, green and black. An additional advantage to that decision is that the flags of the government and the opposition in Syria have the same colors, but in a different composition.
Turkije en Syrië zijn zwaar getroffen. Als blijk van medeleven met de mensen in het rampgebied en onze betrokken inwoners, kleurt de mast in de kleuren van de beide vlaggen, hangt de vlag halfstok en doneren wij 1 euro per inwoner aan het Rode Kruis. https://t.co/6d49G4QauN pic.twitter.com/sIiRh5OMUI— Alphen aan den Rijn (@gemeenteaadr) February 8, 2023
De wereld is ontdaan door de aardbevingen in Turkije en Syrië. Ook in Helmond voelen we mee met dit immense verdriet. Onze gedachten gaan uit naar alle slachtoffers en nabestaanden. Daarom hangt de Turkse vlag vanaf vandaag boven ons Kasteel. 🇹🇷❤️🩹 pic.twitter.com/i7c8litIDo— Gemeente Helmond (@gemeenteHelmond) February 8, 2023
Reporting by ANP