Amsterdam: District mayor upset at car-free Sunday, organizes Eid taxis
Jeroen Broeders (PvdA - Labor), mayor of the Amsterdam district Bos en Lommer is 'ashamed' that Amsterdam planned a car-free Sunday coinciding with Eid ul-Fitr.
"Precisely on the day that Muslims go en-mass to visit each other. How come we didn't know that? This says something about how we in the Netherlands live with each other and how we associate with each other," Broeders said on Thursday evening during a meeting in a youth center in Bos en Lommer.
According to Broeders a car-free day would never have been planned on a Christian holiday.
The Union of Moroccan Muslim Organizations asked that elderly Muslims be given an exemption if they wanted to visit the center of Amsterdam by car on Sunday.
The municipality didn't agree since it would have caused confusion regarding who couldn't and couldn't enter the city by car. Amsterdam was closed off to traffic between 10AM and 5PM.
The VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) organized electric scooters to bring stranded motorists to their destination. "We would love to bring Muslims to their family," said VVD head Eric van der Burg in Het Parool. According to Van der Burg the car-free day has no ecological advantages and only causes irritation for both residents and visitors.
Jeroen Broeders of Bos en Lommer doesn't thinks the careless way the government deals with Muslim holidays is coincidental. The PvdA'er also thinks that Geert Wilders proposal to enact a headscarf tax is a sign that the treatment of the Muslim community is disturbing.
The district organized six free vans the day to pick up people at three of the entry points to the city and bring them to their destination. Though the district did so due to Eid ul-Fitr, the service was offered to both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The initiative lead to positive surprised reactions. According to a district spokesperson the people were happy they did not have to bring their large platters of food on the tram. The spokesperson said that stranded tourists also used the service.
Geert Wilders (PVV) announced he will bring up the matter in the Dutch parliament. "It's ridiculous that this was set up in connection with Eid ul-Fitr," he said.
The parliament member wants integration minister Eberhard van der Laan (PvdA) to answer whether he agrees with the opinion of the PVV that it's "sad that many Muslims apparently can't cope with using bicycles or public transport and that therefore vans have to be organized for them."
In Ghent, Mola Metin, deputy chairman of the great mosque, was upset that the car-free Sunday was organized on Eid ul-Fitr. "We have two important holidays: Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan and Eid ul-Adha. On Eid ul-Fitr we first go in the morning to the mosque and then we visit a lot of family. A car-free day wouldn't have been organized on Christmas Eve, right?".
He says he knew about the upcoming car-free day, but he had hoped that the immigrant council member would take care of the issue, which didn't happen. "It is not true that everybody is satisfied. We are not satisfied. I speak on behalf of the great mosque, where 1,500 people gather."
Metin says he's aware the day was organized by the EU, but they could have taken the Muslims into account, certainly in Ghent.
The alderman for mobility, Karin Temmerman, pointed out that Brussels and Antwerp, cities with many immigrants, are also participating in the car-free day. They did take the Ramadan feast into account and therefore the day only begun after 10AM, so that everybody can go to pray.
Alderman Resul Tapmaz (personnel), of Turkish origin, says that for months they've been discussing this with the mosques and the associations. All the imams will explain about the car-free day in the mosque on Friday. "That they're not satisfied is not true. If he's the deputy chairman of the mosque, then he didn't do his work well. This criticism is unjust."
Sources: Elsevier 1, 2; dvhn; Volkskrant; nieuwsblad (Dutch)
See also: Amsterdam: Car-free Sunday coincides with Eid ul-Fitr