Two Labour MPs of Turkish origin have been expelled from the parliamentary party for refusing to back Labour social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher’s line on integration.
Tunahan Kuzu and Selcuk Öztürk were thrown out of the party on Thursday after openly criticising Asscher and refusing to back down at a three-hour meeting. The two men will remain MPs, trimming the number of Labour parliamentarians to 36 and cutting the Labour-VVD coalition’s strength to 77 out of 150 MPs.
There is a ‘major difference of opinion’ about the PvdA’s approach to integration, party leader Diederik Samsom told reporters after the meeting. ‘And so we are going our separate ways,’ he said.
‘Elected MPs are being silenced for refusing to sign a declaration which they do not support,’ Kuzu said in a short press statement. Neither man would say what was in the statement they refused to sign.
But Kuzu said they would not sign on behalf of ‘the people who do not feel represented’ in the integration theme. The debate about integration has ‘become harder, cruder and more right wing’, Kuzu said.
Second class citizens
‘There are people who feel like second class citizens,’ Özturk said. ‘That should not be the case in a Dutch democracy and we cannot accept it.’
Earlier in the week both MPs had criticised Asscher for saying he planned to step up surveillance of four Turkish religious organisations in the Netherlands which he said he felt were hindering integration.
Asscher made the comments in the wake of a report which claimed to show 80% of young Dutch Turks support organisations like Islamic State. The report has since been hammered for its poor statistical methods.
The duo had also given an interview to a Turkish website in which they said Asscher’s policies lead to exclusion rather than inclusion, the Volkskrant reports.
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