The front page of Wednesday’s Trouw newspaper is devoted to a public appeal calling for tolerance and respect to combat the ‘downward spiral of intolerance and indifference’ in society.
Over 160 people have signed the appeal, including many prominent names from politics, trade unions, sport, the media and the business community.
Signatories include football trainer Foppe de Haan, historian and writer Geert Mak, former home affairs minister Hans Dijkstal and former chairman of the public prosecution department and financial services watchdog (AFM) Arthur Docters van Leeuwen.
An advert like this on the front page is exceptional, says the newspaper. ‘Trouw has not signed the appeal but believes the initiative deserves special attention,’ it says.
The appeal is, says Trouw, the result of a discussion which began with an appeal by the chairman of the HBO college board Doekle Terpstra in the paper a few weeks ago.
Terpstra has called on people to fight the anti-immigration sentiments promoted by Geert Wilders’ PVV party which he says are polarising society.
The initiators of the appeal have set up a website where the public can support their initiative.
‘The Dutch culture is traditionally one of openness and tolerance. Recently this culture has come under pressure. First we had the tendency to turn a blind eye too much. Now intolerance is threatening to take over,’ Terpstra told Radio 1 news on Wednesday.
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