Tilburg: Radical imam not a security threat, hinders integration

Tilburg: Radical imam not a security threat, hinders integration

The controversial ultra-conservative Tilburger Ahmad Salam is not a direct security threat for Dutch democracy or order, but his fundamentalist religious convictions can clash with Dutch norms and values.

This is the conclusion of the IVA researchers, an agency linked to the Tilburg University.  They presented their results Monday to the Tilburg municipal council.

The study was conducted due to signs of dangerous developments in the mosque of Salam in Tilburg-Noord, including information which the police received from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD.

Ahmad Salam belongs to a group of Salafi imams who are followed by the AIVD.  His mosque is considered a radical one, along with the El Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam, the Al Fourqaan mosque in Eindhoven and the As Soennah mosque in The Hague.  He's particularly famous since 2004 because he refused to shake hands with Rita Verdonk, who was minister at the time.  This type of visible conflict-situation and customs can set the tone and can be the basis for tensions, according to the researchers.  They point to the menacing effect on the long term.

The researchers spoke with the many Moroccan and Somali mosque visitors.  They consider imam Salam as a great leader.  His authority is unquestionable.

He doesn't really solve practical day-to-day life problems for his followers, since he sees problems out of his uncompromising religious interpretation.  'The followers are made and kept vulnerable by that attitude.

Mayor Ruud Vreeman (Labor) told the imama two years ago that he didn't belong in the Netherlands.  "I'm not happy with him," he said  Monday, referring to his fanaticism and old-fashioned attitudes. Vreeman is particularly concerned by the youth who visit the mosque in Tilburg-Noord.

The Tilburg council will later discuss the results of the study and a still confidential plan of action by the board.  Coalition party VVD said it was doubtful of the conclusions.  Fraction chairman Roel Lauwerier says that his party didn't change it's point of view.  "Really, there is just one place where imam Salam belongs: with a one-way ticket in a plane to Syria."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

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