The swearing-in of Ahmed Aboutaleb as Rotterdam’s new mayor is an extremely positive start to the new year, despite his political opponents’ childish attempts to once again draw attention to his dual nationality.
And although not as earth-shattering as Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential race – after all Aboutaleb is a political appointee – it does show that progress of a sort is being made.
Aboutaleb will now be given a few weeks to settle in and then he will be getting down to work. In his inaugural speech, the new mayor said building trust would be one of his main strategies.
In a divided city like Rotterdam that will be a tall order. We should not forget that one third of the council are supporters of the anti-immigration party Leefbaar Rotterdam and that national government, not the city council itself, hold the key to solving many of its problems.
But now Aboutaleb has broken the ice for aspiring ethnic minority politicians perhaps we can all stop harping on about his Moroccan origins and his dual nationality and let him get on with the job.
After all, if he fails in his stated ambitions, it will because he is a rotten mayor, not because he was born in another country.
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