Politicians on all sides condemn 'shoot Baudet' chants at demonstration

Prime minister Mark Rutte has condemned a small group of demonstrators who chanted death threats against Forum for Democracy (FvD) leader Thierry Baudet during an anti-racism protest in Amsterdam at the weekend. Footage emerged on social media of a black-clad woman chanting 'If you want to gun down Thierry, just say bang!', surrounded by a group of similarly dressed protesters walking behind a 'refugees welcome' banner. Other people taking part in Saturday's demonstration, which drew an estimated 10,000 people to the streets of the capital, denounced the chant. One man walking nearby said: 'I think it's going much too far. It detracts from the quality and the value of the demonstration.' Speaking to the Telegraaf newspaper, Rutte called for people to show tolerance and respect. 'Democracy isn't a simple thing, but a precious asset. We all need to protect it together,' he said. Other politicians also condemned the statement, including Labour (PvdA) leader Lodewijk Asscher, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and PVV leader Geert Wilders. Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the smallest coalition party, the Christian Union (CU) said: 'It's bizarre that these people combine an unbounded love of refugees with a deadly hatred of political opponents.' Eens! Bizar hoe bij bij deze lieden grenzeloze liefde voor vluchtelingen gepaard gaat met een dodelijke haat voor politieke tegenstanders.. Het concept van dit land: we beslechten onze geschillen met wóórden en leven in vrede met mensen van wie we verschillen. Punt. https://t.co/4pn15eFcoE — Gert-Jan Segers (@gertjansegers) March 24, 2019 Police would not say if they had received formal complaints about the chanting, but the makers of the film, the right-leaning Up!Network, said they had reported 'five or six' people who tried to stop them filming. 10,000 demonstrators The rise of the FvD in last week's provincial elections was a focal point of Saturday's demonstration, an annual event organised by the March 21 Committee. The size of the crowd was estimated to be four times larger than the number that turned out a year ago. Organiser Ewoud van den Berg, sporting a FCK FVD jumper, told the demonstrators in Dam Square: 'We've seen in Christchurch where these ideas can lead. We must take our campaign to wherever Forum for Democracy comes together.' Beeld van de demonstratie tegen racisme vanmiddag:#comite21maart #racisme #discriminatie #amsterdam pic.twitter.com/VCbTsaLdgu — Kevin Levie (@KevinLevie) March 23, 2019 Green-Left alderman Rutger Groot Wassink, speaking at the Dock Worker statue erected as a memorial to the February strike against the Nazi occupation, said: 'We must fight against hatred, intolerance, racism and discrimination in all its forms. Today is a new beginning for unity. However dark things become, the forces of moderation will win.'   More >

Victims of Utrecht shooting commemorated

Dozens of people have gathered at the 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht exactly one week after a man shot dead three people and injured several others on board a tram. Residents and people working in the neighbourhood of Kanaleneiland laid wreaths and observed two minutes' silence, followed by a rendition of Amazing Grace. One woman told NOS: 'It was an initiative by the neighbourhood where residents and organisations in the area wanted to share a private moment and reflect on what happened last Monday.' On Friday around 16,000 people took part in a silent march from the city's main railway station to the site of the shooting a short distance away. Mayor Jan van Zanen addressed the crowd, while prime minister Mark Rutte and justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus also attended. The gunman, 37-year-old Gökmen Tanis, has confessed to the crime, the public prosecution service said after he appeared in court on Friday. Prosecutors did not disclose if he admitted having a terrorist motive, but police say a note he left behind in a stolen car suggest he had jihadist leanings. Tanis has an extensive criminal record and was released from jail three weeks ago on licence after being charged with for rape. He is due to undergo a psychiatric examination and police have not ruled out personal issues playing a role in the shooting. Three people were seriously injured in Monday's shooting in addition to the three who died. The number of people who suffered lesser injuries has not been released. Police have asked anybody who lives or works in the area and has camera images from the time of the incident to upload them via http://bit.ly/2TRj0Fy to help with their investigation.  More >

Blaricum has highest average home price

The gap between the cheapest and most expensive places in the Netherlands to buy a home has never been so wide, according to new calculations by national statistics office CBS and the land registry service Kadaster. The average price of a home in Blaricum, near Hilversum, was over €900,000 - 6.3 times the average cost of a home in the Groningen town of Delfzijl (€142,000). The €750,000 difference between the cheapest and most expensive places to buy is partly due to the different sorts of housing on offer. The top five - Blaricum, Laren, Bloemendaal, Wassenaar and Heemstede - have far more large detached homes than Delfzijl and the other cheaper local authorities, the CBS points out. Three other Groningen towns - De Marne, Pekela and Oldambt - and Den Helder in Noord Holland complete the list of cheapest places to buy a home.   More >

Dutch horror move is surprise hit in China

A Dutch horror film that flopped at the cinema on its first release has become an unexpected hit in China. Prooi ('Prey'), directed by Dick Maas, was seen by just 30,000 moviegoers in the Netherlands, but racked up 1.1 million visits in its first weekend days in China, taking €4.4 million. It was the fifth most popular film last week, just behind Bohemian Rhapsody and ahead of Green Book, according to Ent Group which compiles Chinese cinema data. The film features an aggressive lion that goes on the rampage in Amsterdam. It is being shown in 4,000 cinemas in China, a large-scale release usually reserved for domestic films and Hollywood blockbusters. Until its breakthrough in Asia it had been the least successful film in Maas's career, which has also included slasher movie Sint (2010), about a murderous ghostly version of St Nicholas, and De Lift (1983). His best-known work remains the hit social comedy Flodder (1983).  More >

Cut city traffic speeds to 30 kph: RAI

The maximum speed limit in Dutch cities should be reduced from 50 kph to 30 kph, according to car industry lobby group RAI. A lower speed limit would not only be safer but would also improve air quality, the organisation says in Monday's Financieele Dagblad. Some local authorities have introduced 30 kph zones in residential areas, but this does not go far enough, RAI says, pointing out that current national laws on speed limits are now 62 years old. In particular, the arrival of new forms of transport on the Dutch roads - such as electric cargo bikes - has led to an increase in accidents on 50 kph roads, RAI says. And from April, small mopeds will be banned from the cycle lanes in Amsterdam, adding to pressure on the roads. 'All these difference speeds on the roads cause more accidents,' chairman Steven van Eijck told the paper. 'And supervising the speed limit will be easier if no-one is allowed to drive faster than 30 kph.' National legislation would make it easier and faster to achieve lower speed limits in town than leaving it up to local authority processes, Van Eijck said.  More >

Low-cost app can help beat fear of heights

Researchers in Amsterdam have developed an app to beat vertigo that they say is just as effective as a course of therapy. The app, known as ZeroPhobia, is based on the techniques of exposure therapy, a form of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) that gradually allows people to confront their fear of heights. Users create a VR headset by putting a smartphone in a cardboard holder and strapping it over their eyes. They then view a series of images that simulate the effect of looking down from heights. Researcher Tara Donker said the results were comparable to conventional therapy, but at a fraction of the cost. 'We can offer CBT for phobias without the intervention of a therapist, just with the patient's smartphone and a VR set that costs less than €10. 'Patients are gradually exposed in a VR environment to situations that they find frightening. In the case of vertigo, for example, they might stand on top of a tall building or on a balcony. In this way they learn step by step to cope with their fear.' She added: 'I think ZeroPhobia shows that stand-alone adaptations can help keep our health system affordable and make an important contribution to the quality of our care.' Details of the study have been published in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry.   More >

More people fly via Dutch airports

Nearly eight million passengers moved through airports in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 4.5% on 2017, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS. Schiphol was by far the most popular airport, with 71 million people arriving and departing, up 3.7% on a year ago. Eindhoven processed 6.2 million passengers, up 9.4% on 2017. Rotterdam airport saw its passenger numbers rise 10% while Groningen Eelde and Maastricht Aachen added 13% and 64% more passengers respectively. The more limited growth at Schiphol is due to government restrictions on the number of take-offs and landings at the airport, which is currently limited to 500,000 a year.   More >

Russian oligarch has refugee status in NL

A Russian multi-millionaire and former member of parliament has retained his Dutch refugee status despite not living in the Netherlands for years, NRC reported. Yuri Sverdlov was granted asylum in 1991, around the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, but later returned to St Petersburg where he became a businessman and politician, representing Vladimir Putin's United Russia party in the Duma from 2007 to 2011. Immigration officials have tried three times without success to cancel Sverdlov's refugee status since 2011. He retains a postal address in Ermelo at a property owned by a business associate, millionaire poultry farmer Bart van den Brink. The newspaper said it had seen documents about a number of cases being handled by the immigration service IND's revocation team. Others include a Jamaican man who murdered his partner and a Turkish man who has been convicted of violent offences in his homeland. Refugees are supposed to lose their right to asylum if they leave the Netherlands, commit criminal offences or lie about the reason they fled their country. The IND told NRC it did not comment on individual cases, but worked to prevent arbitrary decision-making by implementing 'retrospective quality controls' and 'an optional peer review in advance'.    More >