Dutch king calls for tolerance of diversity in Christmas speech

king willem alexanderKing Willem-Alexander made a plea for tolerance while emphasising the fact that everyone is different in his televised Christmas address to the nation.

‘Unity without diversity is suffocating,’ the king said. ‘Diversity without unity is grains of sand. The Netherlands is more than 17 million selfies.’

Willem-Alexander also spoke about the sadness generated by the MH17 plane disaster, ‘for thousands of people in our country and abroad.’ The tragedy overshadowed the Christmas celebrations for ‘them and everyone affected by the suffering’.

Other events on the fringes of Europe are also having an impact on living in the Netherlands. Power struggles and violence are leading ‘millions of people to look for a safe haven,’ the king said.

‘The world touches us and our actions have an influence on the lives of people far away,’ he said. ‘Our country is no isolated haven. We are part of a complex world, whether we like it or not. Tensions put pressure on our society as well, nationwide but also close to home.’

Convictions are not a licence to behave without regard for others, he said: ‘If you threaten someone else, you take away their feeling of security, their feeling of being home.’

The Netherlands can support the ‘luxury of freedom’, the king said. ‘If we continue to realise that our freedom is a joint responsibility. And that people can only really be free in a society that accepts that people are different.’

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