Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan criticized Jihad Alariachi Wednesday. Famous from the TV program Girls of Halal, she works for the municipality as an adviser on intercultural communications.
Alariachi recently got involved in a discussion about a Turkish father who did not want his child to participate in a teacher's birthday party several years ago in elementary school. The father wrote that due to religious considerations they do not celebrate birthdays or other religious-type holidays and that they hope for understanding on this point.
Another parent, who posted the correspondence on ouders.online.nl responded that the day is not a Christian event, but an opportunity to thank the teachers. Rejecting such a party looks like ingratitude and intolerance. "You ask for understanding, but I feel you don't show it yourself."
Alariachi defended the man. She wrote she was responding on her own behalf, but mentioned her position as well. She said that the problem with integration is the superior attitude towards other cultures. "For example: showing respect. Respect in collectivist societies (cultures like Turkish and Moroccan), doesn't mean that you don't always tell the truth. With the truth you can insult somebody and the feelings of others precedes telling the truth. If you don't do that, then you don't have respect."
Van der Laan said during a council meeting that Alariachi may express her personal opinions, but that it wasn't prudent that she mentioned that she was working for the municipality. Her boss already spoke to her about it. The mayor also said that the municipality did not share Alariachi's point of view.