Amsterdam: Marcouch proposes Muslim neighborhood

Amsterdam: Marcouch proposes Muslim neighbohood

Councillor Ahmed Marcouch, of the Slotervaart neighborhood in Amsterdam, writes his ideas for a 'city in itself', outside the beltway, in a letter.  Not everybody thinks it's a good plan.

"A flourishing Muslim community can arise there, with sufficient social capital.  The Muslim minority would then be an advantage."  This was written by Amsterdam neighborhood mayor Ahmed Marcouch in an internal letter to other neighborhood mayors in  Amsterdam-West.  The Labor Party councillor is taking up the current discussion to minimize the number of neighborhoods in Amsterdam.  Marcouch supports it and see a super-neighborhood, a city of its own: Nieuw West.  He writes: "there is an essential difference between west within the beltway and west outside the beltway."

Marcouch sees various advantages in a large, new neighborhood outside the beltway (competition with Purmerend and Almere, building skyscrapers, expanding the university), but also writes: Nieuw West can contribute to the integration of immigrants. 

Whoever wants can also literally understand his 'faith in Nieuw West', namely as the Muslim faith.  Is it reasonable for a council member to advocate a 'flourishing Muslim community'?  Paul de Krom, VVD parliament member and integration spokesperson says: "If he means to say that he wants to strengthen the Muslim community, or that he want to create a specific Muslim neighborhood in Amsterdam, I would think that very unfortunate.  In a secular society council member should not be led by their faith."

His Labor Party colleague Jeroen Dijsselbloem says: "I don't understand what he means.  Muslim communities form around mosques and not around neighborhood limits."

Last year Marcouch caused a scandal when he proposed to give Islam classes in public schools.  Three members of the Slotervaart council left the Labor Party then.  One of them, Clyde Moerlie, says after reading Marcouch's letter: "A very remarkable statement.  But it does fit in with his thinking.  I don't see much in the one-sided Valhalla that Marcouch wants to create.  Probably a neighborhood where officials don't need to shake women's hands, with Islam lessons in public schools.  We thought we were members of a secular party in the Labor Party, but Marcouch sees it as his duty especially as a good Muslim to spread Islam."

PVV head Geert Wilders announced he will make a parliamentary query about it.  Marcouch himself was not reachable for comment.

Source: De Pers (Dutch), h/t NRP (Dutch)

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