Rotterdam mayor Achmed Aboutaleb told a conference on combating Muslim extremism in the US that even with a soldier on every street corner, ‘you are never completely safe from people who are willing to die for their delusions’.
Aboutaleb, who hit the international headlines for telling would-be jihadis to ‘disappear’ and never come back, is one of several foreign officials invited to attend the three-day conference organised by the White House.
Aboutaleb said that as mayor of ‘an international city where 175 nationalities live together’ having access to information and being actively involved in what is going on is vital.
Secondly, there must be good education and enough traineeships and jobs. ‘Exclusion and discrimination make young people vulnerable to the messages of [extremist] recruiters,’ he said.
Thirdly, officials must set boundaries and monitor them. When people take Dutch nationality, ‘I point out the rights and the duties which Dutch law imposes on them,’ Aboutaleb said.
It is also crucial that people talk to each other, the mayor said. ‘As mayor and a practicing Muslim, I also call upon the Muslim community to take action and make their voices heard more loudly.’
The conference was opened on Tuesday by vice president Joe Biden who said the United States must ensure that immigrants are fully included in American society to prevent violent ideologies from taking root at home.
The delegates to the conference include elected officials, community leaders and religious figures as well as representatives from abroad.
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