Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has dropped plans to ask religious organisations to formally renounce violence against people from the LGBTQI+ community following criticism of the way the issue had been approached.
The mayor wrote to mosque leaders earlier this month, asking them to sign the pledge which stated they ‘totally rejected discrimination and violence against the LGBTQI+ community’ and pointing out that ‘some perpetrators do it in the name of their religion’.
But several reacted angrily after discovering that Christian and Jewish communities had not been asked to make the same gesture – although they reportedly were several days later – and accused the mayor of singling out the Muslims.
By focusing first on mosques, the mayor is ‘no longer making me part of the solution, or as someone who is involved with victims,’ said Nourdeen Wildeman, spokesman for the Blue Mosque in Amsterdam Noord at the time. ‘ You are placing me in the position of perpetrator.’
The mayor told local broadcaster AT5 on Friday that she had now decided to end the project because she did not want it to be a ‘political statement’.
‘I wanted to do this together with others and I do not need to force it in other people’s faces,’ she said.
The problem, she said, is not limited to certain religious groups, but has become part of street culture. ‘The problem is broader, larger, deeper and more serious,’ the mayor told the broadcaster. ‘And it would have been nice if a number of religious communities had come forward first to say that as far as they are concerned, everyone should be safe in public.’
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