Tuesday 19 October 2021

Demonstrations banned in The Hague Schilderswijk district: Update

The ban on marches through The Hague Schilderswijk district is to be challenged in the courts by the extreme right-wing group NVU, Dutch media report.

 

 

The Hague mayor Jozias van Aartsen announced the ban during an emergency meeting of the city council on Thursday evening, called after riots in the district last weekend.

‘I am more sorry than I can say that I have had to take this decision,’ said Van Aartsen, who broke off his holiday to attend the meeting.

Principle

Later on Friday, NVU chairman Constant Kusters told the Nos challenging the ban in the courts is a question of principle. ‘Van Aartsen cannot be allowed to curtail freedom of speech,’ he said.

The organisation has successfully fought bans on demonstrations in the past. ‘Youngsters threatening to riot were judged not to be an excuse for a ban. There must be the threat of a life and death battle,’ according to Kusters.

Illegal

The riot that led to Van Aartsen’s ban broke out last weekend when around 150 Muslim youngsters began an illegal protest, blocking the route of a legal march against Muslim radicals and the Islamic State (Isis).

The fact that Van Aartsen was on holiday and there was no statement on the incident from the city council caused an outcry.

Anti-Jewish

The mayor was already under fire for not taking tough action during an anti-Jewish rally on July 24, when demonstrators were heard chanting ‘death to Jews’ and protesters carried pro-Isis flags.

During Thursday evening’s meeting, Van Aartsen confirmed that mayors can only ban demonstrations if there is a danger to public health, traffic or public order.

Peace

He took the decision to ban marches through the Schilderswijk in order to give the people who live there some peace, he said.

‘The majority of people who live in what is a poor neighbourhood are trying with all their might to make something of their lives. I do not want to let them down. They are the victims when a handful of radicals of various persuasions start fighting,’ he said.

Before Van Aartsen spoke, people from the district had their say. All of them wanted a ban on demonstrations in their district, pointing out that the Malieveld, a large grassy area in the city, is the best place for demonstrations.

 

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