Amsterdammers are again up in arms about an “expat” who has lived in the city for two years and her suggestion that the bells of the Westerkerk church be silenced.
The note, published on social media by a Jordaan local and widely shared, calls on people who have enjoyed the lack of bells while the spire is renovated to make a complaint to the city council.
The city, the letter points out, has already received complaints about the noise and “we asked ourselves the city if the bells could stop at night … in order to guarantee a better sleep”.
Actie van een groep bewoners rondom de Westerkerk in Amsterdam. Ze wonen al twee jaar in de hoofdstad en willen het klokgeluid van de Westertoren in de nacht laten stoppen. pic.twitter.com/EqHT9h95bh
— Richard van de Crommert (@RichardCrommert) January 22, 2024
The city, the note continues, then told the couple that it had discussed the topic before and “they concluded that it would need more complaints to make a change”.
Deciding to drum up more support, the expat continued by saying “If you are also bothered by the bells, you can send a message to the City of Amsterdam (see contact details below) explaining your concerns. So that we could all enjoy the beauty of the cathedral without the inconvenience of noise.”
Since the letter was posted online, the hapless writer has been subjected to a barrage of abuse and told to learn Dutch.
“This is one time when you can say ‘bugger off back to your own country’ without sounding racist,” Charifa Zemouri wrote on social media.
Dutch News has contacted the original social media poster to try to establish when the letter was sent.
“I am so sorry, I did not want to offend anyone,” the Telegraaf quoted the letter writer as saying. “I only wanted to exchange ideas about it… I am learning Dutch, I am doing my best and I love the city. What should I do now? Move?”
In 2019 there was a similar protest about the church bells by expats which resulted in the issue being discussed by a council subcommittee. There was also a campaign to have the bells silenced in 2006 and complaints by “yuppies” in 1987.
Also in 2019 there was an outcry when one of the city’s mosques said it wanted to start amplifying Friday afternoon’s call to prayer. The news immediately led to a storm of social media comment, with the anti-Islam PVV tabling parliamentary questions and even Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema saying she did not support the idea.
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