‘I’m not too old,’ justice minister Opstelten tells jihad debate critics

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten has responded to critics of his ‘shambolic’ performance in a debate on the government’s plans to tackle jihadist support by saying he is not too old to do the job.

Opstelten, who was 70 at the beginning of this year, said after Friday’s cabinet meeting he was not concerned about criticism of his age because ‘I don’t feel it’. The minister said he is more interested in next Tuesday’s vote and on putting the plans into practice.

‘I consider I outlined the proposals very clearly,’ Opstelten told broadcaster Nos. ‘It would appear not everyone thinks so.’

Many MPs criticised Opstelten for failing to give clear answers during the debate and not answering critics’ points. He also resorted to using notes prepared by civil servants, the Volkskrant said.

At one point, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold suggested halting the debate to allow Opstelten time to work out what he wanted to say. Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma said Opstelten’s performance was ‘not worthy of a minister’.


In a scathing review of the minister’s performance in parliament in Friday’s Volkskrant, columnist Sheila Sitalsing said just nine of the 38 measures announced to combat radicalism are new.

The minister answered his critics with lengthy replies and meandering sentences which at first appeared to refer to the subject but were actually ‘the instructions for putting up a complicated Ikea cupboard with two sliding doors’, Sitalsing wrote.

Striping people of their passports without the intervention of a judge is ‘actually logical if you understand what we are talking about’, she quoted the minister as saying.

Tracking down home-grown terrorists will not be done at the expense of other security service jobs because ‘it is not so much about extra capacity but extra quality’ and ‘it is about reprioritising which does not have an impact on other priorities’, the minister told MPs.

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