Rotterdam mayor faces councillors' questions over Salafism comments

Half of Dutch youth cycle after dark without lights

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb faces questioning by city councillors on Thursday evening over comments he made about Salafism during the winter break, according to the Volkskrant. Aboutaleb told a radio programme that every Muslim is a 'bit of a Salafist', and that he could be seen as a jihadi, stating, when questioned, that he was referring to the words in their broadest definition. Salafism is considered to be an conservative or pure strand within Sunni Islam and has come to be associated with extremist violence. Aboutaleb, however, told the programme that to him Salafism is about attempting to live in the same pious way as the prophet Mohammed. 'By that definition, would you call yourself a salafist?' presenter Tijs van den Brink asked the mayor? 'Yes, every Muslim is a little bit of a salafist,' Aboutaleb answered, adding that 'I have said before that I am a jihadist. I get up every day at 7am to do good for Rotterdam and the Netherlands. That is jihad in its purest form.' Aboutaleb, who is a practising Muslim, has always been reluctant to talk about his faith in public, and his comments raised the hackles of local populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam. PVV leader Geert Wilders also called on the mayor to resign while commentators said the mayor should have been more cautious in his statements, describing them as simplistic. Hard line The mayor, who is in the middle of his second term in office, is also known for his hard line on religious extremists. In 2015, he broke with the Labour party line and said Dutch nationals who have decided they want to travel to Syria to join Islamic militias should be allowed to go but should be banned from coming back to the Netherlands. ‘I want to make sure those who are considering going to Syria know exactly what is at risk,’ Aboutaleb told the AD at the time. ‘If you think this society is depraved, then go. But there is no way back. Hand over your passport and risk getting bombed.’ Aboutaleb also hit the headlines after the terrorist attacks in Paris when he said that the time is right to wipe out ISIS.  More >

Blendle in talks on new investment

Half of Dutch youth cycle after dark without lights Online news kiosk Blendle is in talks with investors about a possible new capital injection after booking a loss in 2016. According to the Financieele Dagblad, the Dutch start up, which has big international ambitions, posted a loss of €2.4m last year, compared with a loss of €1.6m in 2015. Blendle was launched in April 2013 as a newspaper and magazine kiosk. It allows readers to pay a few cents to read individual newspaper and magazine articles and currently works with some 50 Dutch publications. Some 550,000 people have a Blendle account – most of them in the 20 to 35 age group. IN 2014 the New York Times and Germany’s Axel Springer group put €3m into Blendle to fund its international expansion into the US and Germany. Last year, Japanese group Nikkei, which owns the Financial Times, and Amsterdam venture capital group Inkef Capital, put an unknown amount of money into the company.  More >

Hungarian girl rescued from prostitution

Half of Dutch youth cycle after dark without lights Three men have been remanded in custody for forcing a 13-year-old girl to work as a prostitute in Roermond in Limburg province. The men, one Dutchman aged 48 and two men from Hungary aged 49 and 51, were arrested last Friday after police found the girl at a property in Roermond. They have been charged with human trafficking. The men are thought to have taken the girl from an orphanage in Hungary and brought her to the Netherlands, the police statement said. She was found following a tip-off. Over 6,000 people in the Netherlands are the victims of human trafficking every year, two-thirds of whom are coerced into the sex trade, according to a report from the national reporter on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence in October. The maximum penalty for human trafficking was increased to 12 years in 2012 but  the average sentence was 585 days. Just five suspects last year were jailed for more than 1,500 days and almost a quarter of suspects are eventually found not guilty, the NRC said earlier this year.   More >

British man missing after fall from boat

No trace of British man who fell from party boat in Noord Holland canal Police and rescue workers have failed to find any trace of the British man who fell from a boat in the North Sea canal shortly after midnight on Saturday during an on board party. The boat’s captain saw the man fall from the deck of the boat near Westzaan to the west of Amsterdam and threw him a lifebelt but the man had already disappeared under the water, local paper Noord Hollands Dagblad said. The emergency services searched for the man for several hours and the canal was closed to traffic while the hunt continued. A second search attempt, using divers and boats equipped with sonar, was halted on Sunday evening after failing to find any trace of him. The man is thought to be one of a group of people from Newcastle who were staying on the boat. According to local broadcaster AT5, the water temperature is currently around seven degrees and there is no hope that the man is still alive.   More >

More health insurers publish new premiums

Half of Dutch youth cycle after dark without lights More Dutch health insurance companies have been publishing their premiums for next year, ahead of the six week window for changing policies. Ohra is increasing its price for the basic package by €3.40 a month to €107.95, citing increasing demand and wage costs as reasons for the increase. Delta Lloyd is also increasing the price of its basic free-choice policy by 3.24% to €119.58. However Zorg en Zekerheid is cutting its policy price by €1 a month, using its reserves to pay for the cut. Both Delta Lloyd and Ohra also said they had dipped into their reserves to keep premium prices low. DSW, traditionally the first to announce its fees ahead of the new round of price hikes, said last month it will cut its premium charges by 50 cents a month, taking the price of the basic healthcare package to €107.50 a month. The four biggest players - Achmea (Zilveren Kruis), VGZ, CZ and Menzis, with control some 90% of the market, have until November 12 to publish their fees. The caretaker government said in September it expected premiums to rise by around €80 a year but all the price rises announced so far have been well below this. The new government has frozen the own-risk payment which everyone has to pay towards the cost of their treatment a year at €385.  More >